Whitesburg KY

Fiscal court moving forward with effort to spread ‘broadband’

The Letcher Fiscal Court has voted unanimously to advertise for bids for engineering services necessary to provide broadband service for the Linefork area.

Harry Collins, chairman of the Letcher County Broadband Board, asked the court during a special meeting last week to approve advertising for the bid because the engineering services will be necessary for the board to pursue funding from Appalachian Regional Commission or from any other funders as may be needed.

Collins told the court the board intends to apply for $25 million in grant money to implement broadband development in Letcher County. He said that broadband is as necessary for the county’s economic development and advancement in 2019 as any infrastructure has ever been. He added that the board is ready to move on the initial effort in Linefork as soon as funding is secured.

“We’re standing on the edge of the diving board,” said Collins, “and wanting to jump into the pool.”

The bid calls for engineering design services “to provide industry standard wireless design services for the (Linefork) area defined in (a map of the Linefork area).” This includes recommendations to include 100-megabyte connection rates and residential connections that meet the Federal Communications Commission definition of broadband connectivity. Linefork and the area that surrounds it is the most underserved area of Letcher County.

The court also voted during the February 27 meeting to accept the closeout of excess fees from Sheriff Danny Webb’s final term in office. Deputy LaShawna Frazier presented the annual statement of excess fees, listing total receipts of $699,833.08 against total disbursements of $699,801.93, leaving a total of $31.15 in excess fees, pending audit.

In other business involving the sheriff ’s office, Frazier presented the amended budget summary and reconciliation of accounts. The statement listed the 2018 fee account budget estimate of receipts of $700,105.80 against disbursements of $699,744.00, leaving an estimated balance of excess fees of $361.80.

The court was unable to approve the reconciliation of accounts statement after Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton pointed out that the court was in a special called meeting and approval of the amended budget was not on the agenda.

Kentucky law requires that business at a special meeting be limited to items on the agenda. Although other matters can be discussed, no other business can be voted on. Hatton suggested that the budget be addressed at the regular March meeting and all parties agreed.

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