Campbell County residents who have been hoping for expansion of broadband service and resultant availability of the Internet in rural areas will have to wait awhile longer to learn if their wishes will be fulfilled.

Highland Telephone Cooperative, which provides broadband service out of Scott County into areas of Campbell County west of Highway 297, has applied to the state for an amended license that would allow Highland to expand service east of the highway into Stinking Creek, Highway 25W and eventually in the direction of Habersham and White Oak.

The county commission learned Monday night that the State of Tennessee has not yet approved Highland’s application for an amended franchise.

“CTAS has informed us that there is still a question on whether Highland is qualified to do the engineering work,” Campbell County Attorney Joe Coker explained. “The bottom line is that some things still need to be worked out.”

As a result, Scott Stanfield made a motion to table the commission’s vote on accepting the amended franchise application until April 8 and to recess the meeting until immediately before the April commission workshop.

Also left hanging with the state’s decision will be Highland’s application for an ARC matching grant to fund the expansion work. Campbell County would be asked to match up to 30 percent of the costs.

The commission did, however, vote unanimously to approve the renewal of Highland’s current agreement for service already provided to some areas of the county, including the New River and Beech Fork communities.

The meeting got off to an upbeat start when Congressman Chuck Fleischmann showed up for a more or less routine “show the flag” visit, promising the commission that he is confident Democrats and Republicans in Congress will work together on some issues important to his constituents, including $2.1 million to fund coal primacy.

“We can look forward to the time when we can begin mining coal again,” Fleischmann promised.

He was also present for the honoring by the commission of the Campbell County Lady Cougar basketball team. Posing for a photograph with the team as Mayor Morton read off their achievements of being district co-champions, a 13-game winning streak and ranking number 7 in the state’s AAA polls, Morton declared Monday, March 18 as “Campbell County Record Breaking Day.”

The commission also discussed several issues involving the Sanitation Department. New Sanitation Director Bill Rutherford informed the commission that an earlier vote to support a bid by Union County for a waste to energy program that would include Campbell and other nearby counties is still in the air. Rutherford said that he thought the plan to be “far-fetched.”

The commission also voted unanimously to confirm Rutherford as permanent, full time Sanitation Director.

Commissioners also asked a number of questions about the status of jobs that were promised by Telos Global, the company that took over the former A & S steel facility, and other jobs pending from grants awarded in Oswego. Scott Stanfield and some others questioned if those companies were keeping up their end of the commitment.

Vice Mayor Andy Wallace cautioned the commission about asking questions concerning private businesses in a public forum that might violate proprietary restrictions. He invited commissioners to come to his office with their inquiries.

Lisa Lester brought up the topic of pending improvements to Highway 63 in Powell Valley. She announced that TDOT has agreed to meet with Mayor Morton and interested county officials at the courthouse on Tuesday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Rather than adjourning, the commission recessed the meeting until April 8 at 6:00 p.m. in order to discuss any necessary action on the Highland Telephone application, followed immediately by the April workshop.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/19/2019-6AM)