BONIFAY — Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells was presented a plaque during the regularly scheduled Bonifay City Council meeting on Monday after being voted as the Employee of the Year for 2012.
“Every year the employees of the city vote for an Employee of the year and it is an honor and a privilege to present this to Chris Wells,” said Mayor Lawrence Cloud.
Jim Brook with Opportunity Florida came before the council to discuss a lease agreement to use one of the city’s three towers to further the expansion of Florida Rural Broadband Alliance.
“Opportunity Florida is an economic development organization committed to growing the regional economy working within Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties,” said Brook. “The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance, LLC is a regional collaboration of local governments, community and economic development agencies from rural and economically disadvantaged communities. This is comprised of 15 counties within Florida's Northwest Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern and the South Central Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern.”
Brook explained that the FRBA project is to build a new Middle Mile broadband infrastructure.
“In the middle of 2010 we were approved to receive a $24 million grant with an in-kind match of 30 percent,” he said. “We would have been here sooner to speak with the city of Bonifay sooner, but it became apparent that the original tower we had in mind would not be strong enough to support the system. We then found that one of the three towers in Bonifay would be much more suited for this task.”
Brook explained that this lease agreement would be for five years and there would be no expense to the city and would be pending approval of City Attorney Lucas Taylor.
He added that after the five years the city looked to possibly gain from the equipment if the city chose to be an Internet Service Provider.
“This will link together providers of vital public sector commercial services with private sector non-profit entities for the first time in these struggling regions of Florida,” he said. “At this time, only 39 percent of the FRBA region has broadband service.”
He said that at the end of the build out period, FRBA's project would deliver up to 1,000 times the existing capacity within the area.
“This is going to create jobs, enhance public safety, improve delivery of healthcare services, enhance emergency services, promote educational opportunities and so much more,” said Brook. “And with the expansion of technological need and even schools converting from physical books to digital it is vastly needed in this area. I feel that Bonifay doesn’t want to be conspicuous in staying out of this endeavor.”
The council approved of the five-year lease pending approval from Taylor.
Council member Roger Brooks stated that the city of Bonifay has a “cat problem.”
“We’ve got a serious cat problem and I ask are we just going to keep ignoring it?” asked Brooks.
City Superintendent Jack Marell said that the city has been capturing cats often.
“We’ve been able to give some of them away but the vet puts the rest to sleep,” said Marell. “There’s not much else we can do.”
The Council approved for Marell to purchase two more cages in effort to increase the trapping of cats in downtown Bonifay.
The next regularly scheduled Bonifay City Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28.