Lowndes County Commission learns broadband available to rural residents

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Lowndes County Commission approved a resolution in favor of Alabama Legislatively-Referred Constitutional Amendments 2 and 7 during a meeting held Monday evening at the Charles Smith Annex Building in Hayneville.

Amendment 2 would allow local governments to use federal funding for broadband internet infrastructure and award such funds to public or private entities. Amendment 7 specifies counties and municipalities have authority to provide for financing economic and industrial development through the use of public funds, issuing bonds, and leasing property or lending bonds to a private entity.

Gordonville Mayor Orbuty Ozier introduced South Central Alabama Broadband Cooperative District Managing Director Aaron McCall who announced a nearly 12-year project to bring reliable high-speed broadband internet services to Lowndes County has finally reached fruition.

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According to McCall, residents may now enroll in high-quality, advanced speed services via the GetWiredAlabama initiative.

“In all these years, this is the first time we’ve gotten this far,” Ozier declared. “I’m not saying we don’t have some more hurdles to cross. But we are crossing them to get the constituents of the Black Belt online with the rest of the world through GetWiredAlabama.”

Ozier explained ZipLink wireless receivers are on their way to Lowndes County and available free with no-contract, with plug-and-surf plans beginning at $50 per month.

McCall demonstrated how the technology works and described the add-on options customers can sign up for right away.

In other business, the commission:

  • Unanimously approved a $6,000 appropriation to Collirene Volunteer Fire Department;
  • Considered County Engineer David Butt’s presentation of findings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recent visit, which uncovered some 100 structures standing in the Alabama River’s current flood plain, and learned steps proposed to mitigate the situation;
  • Received updates on Emergency Management Director Rodney Rudolph’s search for alternative ambulance service providers in anticipation of Haynes Ambulance of Alabama’s contract expiration in June;
  • Asked Rudolph if he had necessary resources to conduct duties as EMA director and requested he provide a list of needed equipment;
  • Heard from Kimberly Lewis, who expressed a citizen’s concern regarding the County Administrator’s office hours, closure dates of the office, and timeliness of providing public information to county citizens;
  • Answered questions posed by Jatavias Lewis about raises received by some county employees which extended above the approved across-the-board increase of $1.50 per hour;
  • Heard a grievance from Tax Collector Roslyn Smith, who claimed District 5 Commissioner Joshua Simmons misled her by promising to support her request for additional raises for Tax Collector office employees and then failing to approve the request. In the past month, Simmons has been vocal in his support of seeking a $3 per hour raise for county employees, but not enough Commissioners voted in favor of the raise;
  • Considered and tabled a proposed measure to shift county office workers to a 4-day weekly schedule; and
  • Requested Butts look into guardrails needed on County Roads 40 and 12 and leveling for County Road 40.