Tazewell County pushing for Sunset agreement

Posted on Jul 2, 2017

JIM TALBERT | 

A decision on whether or not its vote is reversed could come from the Virginia Coalfield Coalition next week.

Seth White, who serves as chairman of the coalition said the 16 member board was looking at either July 11 or 12 as dates for a called meeting.  Board members Ronnie Shortt, Joe Fawbush and Richard Leonard had asked for the called meeting to reconsider the group’s vote to impose restrictions on Sunset Digital’s purchase of Optinet.

The coalition is a non-profit group that was created to oversee a 38 tower 4G network in seven counties in southwest Virginia. The group voted 8-3 with five members absent to approve the deal that has Sunset purchasing Optinet from Bristol Utility for $50 million.

The coalition has asked to transfer the 4G cell tower network to Scott County Telephone Cooperative. They also asked for $250,000 from Sunset to allow Scott County Telephone Cooperative to purchase the equipment to operate the network.

Sunset has said shifting the 4G to Scott County Telephone Cooperative is unacceptable and providing the company six strands of unlit fiber is impossible. White told David McGee of the Bristol Herald Courier that what the coalition is asking is fair.

He said Sunset has not tried to negotiate with the coalfield group. During its June 28 meeting, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors approved Mike Hymes’ motion to ask the county’s representatives on the VCC, White and John Absher to do what they could to move the deal forward.

Hymes’ motion, which was seconded by Charles Stacy stated the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors hereby authorizes and directs the County Administrator and the County Attorney to draft a letter to our representatives on the CPPD and particularly those who work on VCC to work diligently to move the Sunset – Opti-Net project deal forward and not be an impediment to it.’

Hymes said  Tazewell County really needs strong 4-G Broadband in Southwest Virginia and he does not want to lose the opportunity. While White and Absher are the county’s representatives on the VCC, both also serve as does Stacy on the 32 member Cumberland Plateau Board.

Published by SWVA Today – http://www.swvatoday.com/news/richlands_clinch_valley/article_b7ef2c9a-5dbe-11e7-acf9-f7d54737e070.html