Marion City Council approves installing broadband Internet cable

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MARION, N.C. —

The Marion City Council granted permission Tuesday for an Internet provider to install a fiber optic cable along the city’s rights-of-way. When installed, the cable would carry broadband Internet through McDowell and connect with local schools, health care providers and governments.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting, the City Council met with Hunter Goosmann, general manager of ERC Broadband in Asheville. ERC is a nonprofit provider seeking to expand broadband Internet through western North Carolina. Goosmann told city officials that ERC Broadband plans to install a fiber optic cable running from Spruce Pine to Nebo. It could someday go all the way to Boone.

The cable will carry broadband Internet service and will connect with schools, health care providers and government services, both state and local. Companies that provide Internet service for a profit to individual homes and businesses would be able to use this cable, too, said Goosmann.

“We can support the city of Marion and the county,” he told The McDowell News Wednesday. “We are also an open network. We are working with all these groups to provide competitive options to McDowell County.”

The installation of the cable is expected to start sometime later this spring or early summer. But Goosmann needed to ask city officials to grant ERC Broadband an encroachment on the city’s rights-of-way. He has already gotten permission from the N.C. Department of Transportation for its rights-of-way and will need a similar one from the U.S. Forest Service.

The proposed cable will enter the city of Marion on Fleming Avenue and continue along Robert Street on the Marion Elementary side. It will continue on Robert Street and McDowell Avenue and proceed onto East Court Street. It will eventually travel along U.S. 70 to Nebo.

Goosmann said the project is made possible through federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is also a sub-recipient of MCNC, which is a nonprofit organization that provides technical infrastructure to promote education and economic development in North Carolina.

After hearing Goosmann’s request, council agreed unanimously to grant the encroachment.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

-- Talked more about requests for sewer connections in Glenwood. GraysonEnglandis asking the city for sewer-only connections for a five-unit apartment building, owned by his parents, and the former L&R Country Store, both located on Old U.S. 221 South. City officials are also hearing requests for sewer-only connections for a new duplex apartment building under construction and a single family home, both owned by Dean and Betsy Moore. The city’s Utility Committee has talked with England about these requests and is waiting for more information before making a recommendation. The committee is comprised of Mayor Steve Little, Councilwoman Juanita Doggett and Councilman Billy Martin.

-- Approved the contract forOakGroveCemeterymowing. The city will hire Miller Landscaping and Lawn Care at a rate of $760 a week to mow and trim the weeds at the cemetery. Likewise, the council approved the contract for mowing of the street rights-of-way. The city will hire Appalachian Grounds Management to do the work for a rate of $1,175 a week.

-- Approved the purchase of VIPER radios for the Marion Fire Department at a greatly reduced price. Council met with Fire Chief Jim Neal about the radios, which will be purchased thanks to a federal grant for firefighters. City Manager Bob Boyette said the radios will be bought at a price of $400 each. They usually cost $2,500 each.

-- Agreed to sell a small piece of city-owned property on Meadow Lane to Ray Broome at a price of $1,000. The property covers just one-tenth of an acre. The sale will be subject to the upset bid process before it becomes final.