New wheel tax funding road improvements

Clairfield wants local internet restrictions removed

By Jan Runions -

It seems the new wheel tax is beginning to net improvements in the county roads, as new layers of asphalt and tar and chip are being laid by employees of the Claiborne Road Department.

Road Superintendent Ron Pittman detailed the latest work done by his department during the June meeting of the Claiborne Commission.

The wheel tax raised some $282,833 in funds during its first five months in operation. Pittman estimated the June revenues at some $65,000, or an estimated total $347,833 in expected revenues for the first half of the year.

The county estimated its wheel tax budget a bit higher, at $362,500.

Just during the months of May and June, the road department managed to pave 3.6 miles of county roadways, concentrating its efforts on seven roads including Straight Creek, Cape Norris and Mabetown.

During those same two months, the department used tar and chip to repair 6.2 miles of roadways with Cole Road receiving 2.3 miles of the mixture.

Bill, Duncan Trail, Vannoy Hollow, Cardwell Ridge, Seals Chapel, Molly Hollow Roads and Dalton, Irene and Lakeside Lanes also made the list of those roadways that received a fresh coat of asphalt or tar and chip.

The total cost for laying asphalt during those two months, Pittman said, was $140,659 — or, $39,071.94 per mile. The county spent a total $124,640.62 during the same period on the tar and chip method, he said.

In other action, the county commission unanimously accepted a resolution calling for a change in state statutes that currently limit and restrict municipal electric utilities from providing fiber optic internet services to those residents located outside their territories.

“Access to the internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity,” said Carol Judy, who represented the Clearfork and Eagan communities during the discussion.

Judy said the rural area nearby Clairfield had the capability in the mid 1990s to access dial-up internet services. In fact, she said, those rural communities had the service before the ‘world wide web’ was recognized.

A handout created by S.E.A.D. (Sustainable &Equitable Agricultural Development) details the drive by the organization to make broadband services affordable and reliable through locally owned businesses.

The S.E.A.D. Task Force believes, the handout states, that internet access should be considered a utility like electricity, telephone, sewage and water services.

Funds generated by local internet providers would stay in the community it serves rather than being lost to big corporations outside the region. Areas with some internet access would benefit through an increase in competition between providers, netting an increase in the quality of services, S.E.A.D. claims in its literature.

There are currently nine communities in Tennessee that provide some form of broadband internet through their public utilities. Bristol was the first such project, followed by Morristown, Erwin, Johnson City, Athens and Pulaski with their own brand of public internet options.

Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.

Clairfield wants local internet restrictions removed

By Jan Runions

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