County approves broadband tower sites

WASHINGTON COUNTY Â– Washington CountyÂ’s efforts to make internet connectivity more reliable and available county-wide took a major step when the Washington County Board of County Commissioners met in special session Tuesday, May 11.

Commissioners approved 16 sites for broadband tower placement throughout the county.

These towers are part of a contract relationship with WildStar Networks that began in May of last year and will provide internet in the more rural areas. County officials have been working with cities within Washington County, as well as in the surrounding areas, to sign memorandums of understanding which would allow the company to use cell towers and similar structures as a site to locate the equipment.  

Funding for this project comes from a $1.5 million rural infrastructure grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which was awarded as a 50-percent match for the project with the county expecting to hear about a $3 million from Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) Small Cities Program in the coming weeks. 

After mapping out where equipment could be mounted on existing cell towers and where new towers would need to be erected, the board approved a list of sites for tower placement. Some sites fall within the jurisdiction of municipalities and will ultimately need approval by their councils, but that approval is anticipated, thanks to memorandums of understanding signed earlier this year.

Sites approved for broadband tower location are:  Daniels Lake Drive (two sites), Gables Boulevard, Challenger Boulevard, Still Pond Road (Town of Ebro), Jackson Community Road, Spring Pond Road, Moonseed Lane (two sites), Quail Hollow Boulevard, Desalvo Road, Orange Hill Road, Ryan Lane, Brickyard Road (City of Chipley), South Boulevard, Moss Hill Road (two sites, City of Vernon). While all sites may not be utilized, Commissioners stated it prudent to approve them now so that the infrastructure is already in place should it be needed. 

Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 9 a.m. on May 20.