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Broadband capabilities to improve across county due to school district's partnership

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By Mary Ellis

     Tax rates will not change at Wayne County Schools for 2020 - 2021, but broadband wireless is a step closer for everyone. 

     No one was present for a public hearing Thursday evening regarding comments on a proposed general fund tax levy by Wayne County's School Board. 

    At 6:15 the special session of the School Board was called to order and upon the recommendation of Supt Wayne Roberts - all four board members present - Blevins, Smith, Chriswell and Muse voted in favor of tax rates remaining the same as the current year, 49.2 cents on real property and 49.5 cents on personal property.  Roberts said this would still account for approximately 60 to 70 thousand dollars in extra money.

    Discussions were also held on approving a contract with White Cloud Communications LLC for broadband usage.  After several drafts, Supt Roberts said everyone was now in agreement on White Cloud bringing broadband internet to all of Wayne County.  

    In seeing a map, Roberts said close to Tennessee, there are a few little hollows that might not receive service, but once White Cloud's owner gets the towers up, he is hopeful of tweaking them and providing service to those individuals as well.    

    Roberts says it's 500 thousand dollars cash upfront to Wayne County School's, and then profit sharing for 10 years with the option to purchase for 2 million cash if they so choose.  

   This will be wireless broadband and right now residents have to plug in to CTS or Windstream for service.  There is already a partnership between White Cloud and the City of Monticello to use their water tanks as towers.

   Roberts told school board members his job and theirs is to serve the kids and provide Wayne County Schools a very fair compensation.   

   At the end of the ten years, assuming that White Cloud or whoever buys -  should they meet all the obligations, it's a lease to own deal.

   Part of the contract obligates White Cloud to make a major investment in infrastructure within twelve months. Roberts says it's not just for the kids, but once this thing is developed, it's a big deal for all of Wayne County.  

   Working from home is continually becoming a reality for lots of residents and the broadband wireless will solve lots of issues.  Roberts says he cannot see a negative to it.

    Board member Donna Blevins made a motion to approve the contract with White Cloud which was seconded by Larry Muse and all four members present voted in favor, then the meeting was adjourned.  

   The School Boards regular monthly meeting will be held next Thursday at

Central Office's new location at the old Wayne County Vocational School.  

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