By Taylor Boyd
Bryce Simmons, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority, said RiverStreet decided to use that location because the Bull Mountain tower site and the No Business Mountain tower are visible from the station.
“They would also be able to potentially see the tower that would serve the Meadows of Dan area,” he added.
Simmons said he believes this is a better option than using the Bull Mountain tower as the center because it puts a fiber line in the middle of town, which would give more people options for broadband service than the original plan would.
“The Phase I project is essentially unchanged, except from where the fiber service is coming from,” Simmons said. Using the radio station tower also is the cheaper option because it requires less cables to installed, he added.
Denise Stirewalt, office manager for the WHEO radio station and also representative of the Peters Creek District on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, said the station currently is in discussions with RiverStreet on the use of a pole at the radio station.
“No agreement has been reached at this time,” she said.
RiverStreet also is currently in the final stages of agreements between the owners of the towers in Woolwine and No Business Mountain because permission to use their towers is needed.
While construction can begin immediately after the agreements are reached, Simmons said there is an issue with getting the required supplies.
“Right now, there is a supply issue with getting actually fiber line. If they are able to get the fiber line, we expect that those four sites would be operational in approximately three months,” he said.
“There will obviously have to be some tweaking and some adjusting of the systems, but once we actually have the agreements in place, it will be very quick that they will be able to install the equipment,” Simmons said.
The county also is discussing a regional approach to broadband with the West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC) and RiverStreet.
“Our hope is that we will be able to pull bigger pots of money together for a much larger broadband construction project. We have been told multiple times by the state that they want to see these larger regional projects being applied for rather than individual counties,” he said.
Currently, Patrick County is in discussions with Franklin County, Pittsylvania County, and Henry County. Applications for regional projects will be made on behalf of the WPPDC.
Applications for the 2022 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) opened on June 17 and will close on September 14.
RiverStreet also plans to give an update to the Patrick County Board of Supervisors at the Monday, July 26 work session. The meeting will be open to the public.