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Pennington Gap leaders award contract for broadband study

WALTER LITTRELL • Mar 20, 2007 at 11:30 AM

PENNINGTON GAP - The Pennington Gap Town Council on Monday awarded a contract to Blacksburg-based company Design 9 to do a study of the community's need for broadband Internet service.

Last month, Town Manager Tina Rowe told council members that since being awarded a $25,000 grant for the study, the planning committee had advertised for and obtained proposals from companies to do the study. The committee had recommended Design 9 for the job, she said.

The grant was awarded from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and if the town meets all the goals of this phase of the study, it will be eligible for phase two funding for another study. Both phases must be completed before the town can seek construction funding, Rowe said.

Rowe said the VDHCD has created the Virginia Rural Broadband Planning Initiative, a comprehensive telecommunications planning effort that will allow communities to identify and develop all elements necessary to create a successful community broadband network.

Phase one tasks include a needs assessment and asset inventory; an analysis of current and future business and professional uses and applications; an assessment of community computer literacy and identification of technology education needs; and an assessment of the need for, and nature of, investment in broadband infrastructure.

After learning that the Pro-Art Association is struggling financially and has decided to limit its programming, including eliminating those planned for Lee County, council members agreed to provide the association $1,000 - but only if programming is offered in Lee County.

Police Chief Mike Nunley reported that he has hired one new officer and still has one position to fill.

Lane Engineering reported that it is anticipating final approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation for a planned sidewalk project within the next two weeks. The engineers also reported that funding applications for the Lee Theater renovation project have been submitted to the Virginia Tobacco Commission and to the Slemp Foundation, that a contract has been awarded for the Kentucky Avenue water project, and that bids have been received for the North Johnson Street water project.

Because the town is awaiting the arrival of a new dump truck, council members agreed to change the date of a spring cleanup week to April 23-27. During that week, town crews will remove debris for town residents at no cost.

Rowe also reported that VDOT will be paving 34 town streets in the near future.

Prior to the meeting, council members conducted a sewer budget workshop. A public hearing on the entire town budget was scheduled for June 11.

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