Erica Davis to chair county broadband group

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 11/1/19

A new committee focused on bringing broadband service to Bradley County will have its first meeting later this month.

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Erica Davis to chair county broadband group

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A new committee focused on bringing broadband service to Bradley County will have its first meeting later this month.

Bradley County Commission Chairman Johnny Mull named the members of the Broadband Initiative Ad Hoc Committee during a recent meeting.

They are: Commissioner Erica Davis, who introduced the idea of forming the committee, and who has been appointed chairperson; Lindsay Hathcock will represent the County Mayor's office; Scott Webb will represent Bradley County Schools; County Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Crye; Volunteer Energy Cooperative representatives Aaron Hood and David Murphy; Charter Communications representative Nick Pavlis; Bradley County resident Tom Mathews; and Jeremy Jarvis, representative for CORPTEK Computer and Network Services & Solutions.

“I’m confident this group will work and be key in accomplishing this goal,” Mull said.

Introducing the idea for establishing the committee, Davis said last month its goals are to:

• Educate the public on the latest steps being taken in this area to expand broadband accessibility, as well as “what’s coming in the future.”

• Invite local and state officials, school board members and members of the public, so they can “all hear directly from them.”

• Talk about the process and provide real-time action steps “so we know where we are in this effort to get Bradley County broadband in every district.”

• Work to lobby state and local officials “to ensure that Bradley County receives top consideration for future grants and projects.”

The Broadband Initiative ad hoc committee’s first meeting has been scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the County Commission Conference Room, in the Courthouse.

In other discussion, Davis spoke about the previous week’s Law Enforcement Committee meeting, where the committee approved developing a grant writing team for federal, state and local grant opportunities. She said they are reaching out to people in the community who are knowledgeable in grant writing, noting team membership “will be fluid” as organizers seek people with expertise in different areas.

Commissioner Kevin Raper recommended reaching out to local school systems for grant-writing help.

Commissioner Howard Thompson asked if the BCSO already has grant writers. Sheriff Steve Lawson said it does not, and he believes having a team dedicated to grant writing will be helpful.

“I think it will be smart to have people smart in those areas looking at it,” Lawson said.

Commissioner Louie Alford complimented Davis for recommending a grant-writing team be established, noting it is “wise” to bring in professionals.

“We need somebody for the whole county to write grants,” said Thompson, who noted Bradley County used to have a grant writer.

“There’s money out there to be got and there’s no reason we can’t get a little bit of it," he said.

Commissioner Milan Blake said it is important to remember with grant opportunities that sometimes the funding is available for a certain period of time, then it ends. For example, he said the presence of school resource officers (SROs) at local schools started as a grant and now it is part of the regular budget.

“Just keep that in mind,” Blake said, reminding that grants also require matching funds.

Commissioner Bill Winters said a reason they moved forward with establishing a grant-writing team is because there are donors who want to contribute to the BCSO, and those donations could possibly be used for grant-matching funds.

In other business, the County Commission:

• Heard from Crye, who asked Raper to thank the Bradley County Road Department for the “extensive amount” of paving in the Second District.

Alford echoed that sentiment, adding he would like to see some attention given to roads being used as “dragstrips” by speeding drivers.

• Heard from Blake, who said Bradley Health Care & Rehabilitation recently had its audit and is “doing well.” He congratulated Scott Oliver, the facility’s CEO and administrator, and his staff for their work.

The next meeting of the Bradley County Commission is scheduled for noon on Monday, Nov. 4, in the County Commission Courtroom of the Courthouse.

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