Pocahontas County Commission Rejects Spruce Knob Seneca Telephone Funding Request
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Commission pledges almost $ 26,000 dollars to the High Rocks Academy to bring an Americorps team to the county. But a five thousand dollar request related to a broadband initiative by Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone is not as successful. Both were discussed during the Commission meeting Tuesday.
Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone requested a five thousand dollar contribution for a USDA Rural Development grant application. The application is for a second round of fed funding that could bring broadband access to Pocahontas. Commissioner David Fleming says this could provide last mile connectivity. Last mile connectivity is defined as the final connection between internet provider and end user.
John Mutscheller, with Frontier Communications, spoke out against the request, saying residents should stay with a local company. Mutscheller argues that even though Frontier is based in Stamford, Connecticut, he’s always thought of the company as a local one. Spruce Knob has been located in neighboring Pendleton County since 1972, when it was formed as a non-profit telephone cooperative. In 1983, the company became a member of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association. Co-ops such as this are typically owned by their members. Mutscheller claims Frontier offers higher rates for less cost.
“Right now they have 768 is their speed for $39.95, I offer 1 mg for $20.00” says Mutscheller.
But many dispute that saying the speed is not that high, nor the cost that low. Fleming also says that while Frontier claims to have 92% DSL coverage in the county, only 1of 3 can afford or would choose it. Allen Johnson says WV recently received a 126 million dollar grant for broadband programs throughout the state, which will also benefit Frontier. He says the county should be doing all it can to support all broadband initiatives.
Commissioner Fleming made a motion to contribute five thousand dollars to Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks telephone. The motion died for lack of a second.
The Commission was much more receptive to the funding request from the High Rocks Academy, pledging almost 26,000. HRA Co-director Sarah Riley says they have applied for a grant to bring an Americorps team to the county, consisting of at least 6 full time volunteers. Two would work with the High Rocks Academy programs, two in the elementary schools, and two with a local foods initiative.The Commission unanimously approved the funding pledge, provided the High Rocks application is approved.