Broadband will soon be hot in south end of the county

The first of Washington County’s broadband lines are expected to be in operation by the end of May, according to County Administrator Jeff Massey.

Massey gave the update to the Washington County Board of County Commissioners when the board met in regular session on April 21, stating that while the project is still under construction, the first of the build-out phase is ready to run at selected test sites.

The tower at Daniels Lake Drive is complete and will have power as soon as Florida Power and Light erects the needed power poles. The fiber lines which will serve Wausau, Mudd Hill, Hunter Park, Orange Hill and Quail Hollow are currently being installed. 

“We have been waiting for this for a long while,” said Massey. “Many different factors played into the delay like supply chain issues, but we are on the way now and we are excited.”

WildStar Networks is expected to set up test sites in the near future, which will help provide the company information on how the system is working. WildStar Networks has not clarified which homes will be used as test sites, or how the sites will be selected.

In other business, commissioners approved a land use exception for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office request to construct, maintain, and operate a 250-ft. tall guyed tower for emergency and public safety communications purposes. WCSO states the tower will be built on Holmes Valley Road and will provide higher quality communication in the Vernon, Five Points, Holmes Valley portion of the county.

Commissioners also approved giving all county employees another stipend. Employees who were employed with the county before June 7, 2021, will receive $1,000. Those employed after will receive $500. Employees received an identical stipend last October. Commissioner Charles Kent brought the matter to the board as a reminder that commissioners approved another payment in the spring to follow the one from the previous fall. “We made a promise they would receive another stipend in the spring,” said Kent. “We told them we would, and it is spring, so we need to do what we said we would.” The $260,000 will be paid out of American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

Finally, Lynda Waller of the Vernon Historical Society requested a proclamation from the board in support of a grant application to restore structural damage to the historic Hard Labor Church. The board gave the measure unanimous support. “The Hard Labor Church is a historical site, and we need to protect it,” said Chairman Tray Hawkins. “Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help secure the grant and save the church.”

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in special session at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 4.