Decatur Co. to draw up contract with Turner Broadband

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to develop a contract with Turner Broadband with the help of a third party consultant at its meeting Tuesday.

Decatur County Attorney Bruce Kirbo and Administrator Alan Thomas will meet with Turner Broadband owner Shane Turner to discuss what is needed to provide better, more reliable internet to residents in the more rural areas of the county.

A contract is expected to be presented to the board by its next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

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“We as commissioners have been getting a lot of complaints about Turner Broadband’s services,” Commissioner Russell Smith said. “Talking with Mr. Turner, all the equipment needs to be upgraded, but he can’t spend the money that needs to upgrade it until he gets a contract. He could spend thousands of dollars upgrading the equipment and we could decide to go with another company.”

Smith urged the Board of Commissioners to prioritize putting in place a contract that will give better service to residents. Turner Broadband’s equipment uses county-owned towers to deliver its Internet signal.

“There was supposed to be a contract to where he could keep the equipment updated, but it fell through the cracks,” Smith said. “The past administrator (Gary Breedlove) never did get a signed contract.”

Kirbo said there was a copy of a document in 2014 intended to become a contract, but nothing was signed.

The biggest problem with the document, he said, was no minimum standards were set to protect either entity in the agreement.

“There is nothing in the proposed contract that gave us the ability to hold his company accountable if he fell short of certain standards,” Kirbo said. “I think where we need to go from here is receive from him some sort of proposal as to what equipment of ours he wishes to continue to utilize, what services he will provide, the minimum standards. Once we do that, then we can put a contract in place that will not only benefit his company, but also benefit the county.”

Commissioner Butch Mosely suggested that a third party consultant be a part of developing Decatur County’s contract with Turner Broadband.

Turner thanked the Board of Commissioners for their patience with fixing Turner Broadband’s Internet service.