By Jim Wilkerson
On Tuesday, August 10, the Police Jury formally approved appointments for the Lincoln Parish Broadband Commission. Organization of the commission began in April of this year for the purposes of studying impediments to rural access to broadband and devising solutions to achieve parish-wide access to high-speed internet.
Resolution No. 21-21, approved in April, cited federal government statistics which show that eighty percent of the twenty-four million American households who lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet live in rural areas. This statistic, among others, has led the Police Jury to enter the broadband industry. That is, if Lincoln Parish citizens vote in municipal broadband this upcoming fall.
Police Juror Skip Russell, who is a member of the commission, brought up one of the potential appointees, Claiborne Electric. Russell heard from an inside source that Claiborne Electric was considering starting its own rural broadband service which would operate as a private entity and charge its customers. Parish Administrator Doug Postel informed Russell that that was one of the reasons Claiborne Electric was included in the list of appointees – to collaborate with them rather than compete.
The appointees of the Lincoln Parish Broadband Commission include (*not yet confirmed):
Lincoln Parish Sheriff, Stephen Williams
Lincoln Parish School Board Superintendent, Ricky Durrett
Representative of rural or charter schools, Gordon Ford
President of Grambling State University, Rick Gallot*
Designee for the President of Louisiana Tech University, Tom Hoover
Representative of rural healthcare providers, Jackie White
Representative of the Grambling Chamber of Commerce, Daphne Gallot
Designee for the Mayor of the City of Ruston, Dusty Hampton
Lincoln Parish Police Juror, Skip Russell
Representative of rural Lincoln Parish municipality mayors, Sybil Foster
Representative of the agriculture industry, Clark Canterbury
Representative of the forest industry, Brandon Ewing
Rural utility provider, Claiborne Electric*
Representative of minority business owners, Delores Wilkerson Smith
Representative of faith-based organizations, Maurice White
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