Nelsonville Public Square

This February 2019 file photo shows construction on the historic Public Square in Nelsonville.

Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, June 12 newspaper on Page A3.

NELSONVILLE — City buildings in Nelsonville will soon be outfitted with new phone and internet systems, which may also improve surveillance and emergency services in town.

That decision was made by Nelsonville City Council on Monday, which gave a thumbs up to making improvements to City Hall.

City officials have sought an improved phone system for several years, dating back to when the local government’s phone bill exceeded $63,000 for the year 2016.

The city switched to Nelsonville TV Cable for several years, but officials have eyed trying to upgrade the services while keeping costs low.

The city received three bids, one of which was approved on Monday. The bid price of $19,500 per year was accepted from Horizon Telcom Inc. and FreedomLinx LLC, which will work together to provide phone and internet services. There is also an initial fee of $8,000 for installation and wiring, which the city will then own once it is in place.

“We felt the combination of these two (companies) brought us into the 21st Century,” City Manager Chuck Barga said.

He noted that the service will allow expansion of surveillance in the city, including more cameras at the city pool and park.

Horizon provides fiber optic services to Ohio University, Hocking College and several hospitals and medical centers. A Horizon representative present at the Council meeting said he was completely sure that the new phone system will have no failures, as it will provide lines for 911 services at the police and fire department as well.

In case of an internet failure, the representative said the free Nelsonville TV and Cable service will be kept as a “failover” precaution.

The installation time for the new phone system is expected to take 180 days, and the contract was approved unanimously during the Monday night meeting.

In other business ...

Council unanimously approved the purchase of a new street sweeper. The sweeper will be partially funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities grant worth $50,000. The remaining cost, about $116,000, will be paid for through a loan offered by USDA. The first payment on the loan will be due next year at an amount of about $15,000 per year.

Council also read a resolution to place a 5-year renewal of the 2-mil street levy on the Nov. 5, 2019 election ballot. The existing street levy will expire this year, and Barga said the money would be necessary for upkeep of roads and infrastructure within the city.

Council then passed an ordinance submitting a petition to the Athens County Board of Election to place a marijuana decriminalization issue on the November ballot similar to that which passed in Athens in 2016.

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