County partners with CVEC to bring broadband to Fluvanna

County partners with CVEC to bring broadband to Fluvanna

By Christina Dimeo, editor

Fluvanna County is partnering with Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) to bring broadband internet service to many of its residents.

Fluvanna’s Economic Development Authority has offered CVEC $500,000 in tax rebates for the portion of the project being completed in the county, said Eric Dahl, deputy county administrator.

CVEC’s $110 million project includes a $20-$25 million investment in Fluvanna, said Jason Smith Wednesday (Aug. 1) at the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meeting. CVEC’s goal is to provide all its customers with an option for broadband in the next five years.

CVEC covers about 85 percent of Fluvanna with about 8,600 points of service. Dominion Virginia Power serves the other Fluvanna locations.

Expanding internet access and capacity for Fluvanna residents and businesses is important, Smith said. Some homeowners can’t sell their properties because they don’t have internet access and prospective buyers aren’t interested. The internet has become ubiquitous in today’s society and residents without access are significantly hampered. Businesses are also unlikely to locate to areas without internet access.

CVEC’s investments in Fluvanna will bring in tax dollars after the $500,000 rebate has been satisfied. “The sooner we get involved, the sooner we can potentially see some tax revenue,” Smith said.

“And service to our residents,” said County Administrator Steve Nichols.

Firefly Fiber Broadband, as CVEC’s company is called, will offer high-speed internet with unlimited data at 100 megabits per second for $49.99 per month or one gigabit per second of unlimited data for $79.99 per month. “Unlike many other internet services, the download and upload speeds will be the same on the Firefly network,” according to a CVEC press release. Firefly will also offer voice-over IP phone service with unlimited local and long-distance calling in the continental U.S. for $29.99 as an add-on to internet service.

The project is expected to create about 10 new jobs in Fluvanna, Smith said.

Gary Wood, president and chief executive officer of CVEC, said that his company is excited to work with Fluvanna. “We’re going to get in here and solve some problems,” he said.

Wood has likened his company’s broadband project to the rural electric cooperative push to provide electricity to rural areas in the 1930s. “Just like in those early days, the cooperative has decided that if no one else will build the infrastructure to serve us all, we will do it ourselves,” he wrote in a letter to CVEC customers.

CVEC aims to have service to the Zion Crossroads area by the end of next year. In subsequent years it will expand its network throughout the county, and will finish by the end of 2024 if all goes according to plan.

Supervisor Mozell Booker said she wants to bring the internet to her district, Fork Union, which is served by Dominion.

Although CVEC’s internet will not serve Dominion customers, the fact that fiber will be laid much closer to Fork Union homes may induce a company to undertake the project of connecting the area.

County attorney costs

Supervisors unanimously approved a transfer of about $16,500 from their fiscal year 2018 (FY18) contingency and personnel contingency budgets to cover a shortfall in the county attorney budget.

The amount spent on the county attorney’s services has exploded in recent years:

  • FY10 $106,470
  • FY11 $155,275
  • FY12 $181,443
  • FY13 $137,126
  • FY14 $113,126
  • FY15 $169,985
  • FY16 $202,811
  • FY17 $271,879
  • FY18 $291,492

“It seems like we’ve had a lot of legal problems in the last six months or a year,” said Supervisor Don Weaver. He asked if the county attorney budget would shrink in the years to come.

County attorney Fred Payne said he’d like to see that happen but doubts it will. Much of the money covers the cost of drafting and reviewing procurement contracts, he said. There has been a lot of expense in connection with Fluvanna’s water projects and, he said, “We haven’t even gotten to writing regulations for the water system.”

In other matters:

  • Supervisor Tony O’Brien asked Alan Saunders, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) residency administrator, whether VDOT is planning any improvements to the dangerous spot on Route 600 (South Boston Road) by Lake Monticello’s Riverside Gate. Saunders said his department obtained special permission to install rumble strips on Route 600 – an improvement usually reserved for primary roads. He also said VDOT refreshed Route 600’s pavement markings and added reflectors.
  • Supervisors approved the charter of the Palmyra Area Revitalization Committee, which will work on a plan to spruce up the downtown Palmyra village area.
  • The Board appointed Nadia Manifold Anderson to serve on the Region Ten board and appointed Rudy Garcia to the Economic Development Authority.

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