Two firms bid for broadband planning contract

by Kate Shunney

The Morgan County Commission opened two bids for professional services for broadband internet planning for the county during their June 6 regular meeting. Morgan County received a $75,000 broadband planning grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this year.

The bids will be evaluated and bidders interviewed before a firm will be selected, said county officials.

Design Nine, Inc. of Blacksburg, Va. and Thompson & Litton of Wise, Va. both submitted proposals to review Morgan County’s broadband capabilities and advise the county on how to extend affordable broadband internet services county-wide.

The team that will evaluate the bids and bidders include Stefanie Allemong, interim county administrator; Commissioner Bob Ford and Commissioner Ken Reed. Ford said bids included hourly fees for various technical services the companies can provide. He said the county would negotiate a contract price with the company selected to create the broadband plan.

Internet service firm chosen

In other business, the Morgan County Commission selected Frontier Communications as their service provider for WVNet, the internet line county offices use to connect to state agencies.

Previously the state was under contract with Frontier for the service and counties paid the state contract price. Counties now must choose their provider.

Morgan County will pay $525 per month to Frontier for the 100Mb internet service line. Three other providers were qualified to offer the service – Verizon, at $1,500 per month, Shentel Communications at $500 per month and Comcast at $525 per month.

Commissioner Bob Ford made a motion to select Frontier for a 60-month contract for the service. Officials voted 3-0 to use Frontier.

Board appointment

In other county business, commissioners appointed Mel Harmon to the Morgan County 911 Advisory Board for a term to expire on April 24, 2021.