Sandyville residents will have cellular service thanks to an agreement between the county and the cellular company T Mobile.
During a 9:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday, the Jackson County Commission approved a site lease agreement and memorandum of lease with T Mobile Central LLC to allow their equipment to be placed at the new communications tower in Sandyville.
Commissioner Mitch Morrison spearheaded the effort to get T Mobile service to the area, as well as the effort to get a communications tower built in Sandyville in the first place.
“It’s official now. It’s a big deal because cellular service is something that the people in Sandyville have wanted for a long time,” Morrison said. “It was one of my campaign issues that I promised I would work on.”
Morrison said he had a lot of help in getting to this point. Fellow commission members President Dick Waybright and Commissioner Mike Randolph both supported the effort. The commission’s administrative assistant Sandy Garrett also played a significant role in the project, preparing a large amount of paperwork in support of the effort, Morrison said. County attorney Eric Holmes also invested many hours into the project.
Office of Emergency Management Director Walter Smittle also was instrumental, helping get Morrison and others an opportunity to make a presentation before the West Virginia Tower Funding Commission in Charleston to acquire funds for the tower project.
Morrison, along with Smittle, Sheriff Tony Boggs, EMS Director Steve McClure and Gilmore Elementary School principal Jenny Knopp assisted with the presentation to plead the case for a Sandyville communication tower.
The work to get a tower in Sandyville began in February 2015. By March 2016, the county had received a grant for $537,000 to construct the tower. Sandyville resident Adrian Ball donated the property for the tower site in New Era.
All of this work was just to get the tower built, Morrison said. Getting cellular service to the people of Sandyville was still on the to-do list.
Once the tower was built, T Mobile contacted the county and showed interested in adding their services. They inquired about the county’s fees.
“I told them we were not looking to make money on the tower, we just wanted to provide cellular service to our residence,”
Morrison said he worked with Dave Charzn of T Mobile and the two quickly established a rapport. Eventually, the county and T Mobile established a contract whereby the company could install its equipment on the tower in exchange for maintenance costs associated with the site, such as upkeep of the road to the tower.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting:
The commission approved a the sales order and agreement with Election Systems and Software for new election equipment in the amount of $593,022. The commission also approved a loan agreement with Nationwide Capitol LLC for the new election equipment
The county received a federal grant administered through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office for more than $300,000 toward the election equipment, which consists of new voting machines, ballot machines and added security for election equipment and processes.
The commission approved a policy extending emergency absentee voting for the Nov. 6 general election.
The commission appointed Margaret Ritchie to serve an additional term as a member of the Jackson County Board of Health.
Commissioners approved the following estimates from Airgas USA LLC for equipment the Greene Center in southern Jackson County: Five fire extinguishers (5lb at $58 each or 10lb @ $85 each) and an inspection of fire alarms for $132.92.
The commission approved the transfer of Montana Boggess from Interim 911 Director to 911 Director effective Oct. 1.