Wahkiakum West supporting east side broadband effort
July 22, 2021
Wahkiakum West is considering taking an active role in extending broadband on the east side of Wahkiakum County, their new CEO Ken Johnson told the Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Directors on Tuesday.
Following a meeting with PUD General Manager Dave Tramblie, Johnson said he approached the Wahkiakum West board about how they might help the broadband effort on the east side of the county.
They gave him “latitude to explore this,” he said, though he would have to return to them for further approval if it involved any structure or capital.
While the PUD has been exploring ways to bring broadband to the east side of Wahkiakum County, the Westend is already served by Wahkiakum West. According to Johnson, they still need to convert about 200 customers to fiber on their side of KM, but as soon as that is done, he hopes to identify a good location on the east side to do a pilot project.
If the pilot project is successful, the plan would be to expand upon that, instead of a “multi-million dollar swing for the fence initiative.”
“We want to be a quality partner trying to figure out how to make this work for the community,” Johnson said, adding that WW was already talking to Steve Carson about how they can collaborate with Skamokawa Internet Services.
“I’m excited,” Carson said.
While Carson is a private business owner who provides internet service to customers in Skamokawa and other places on the east end of the county, he has been involved in the effort to bring broadband to Wahkiakum, as a member of the Broadband Action Committee and a consultant for the PUD.
“This is what we’ve been looking for, a private partner,” Carson continued. “I think they’ve got a little more strength to be able to provide some of that,”
“It’s a step in the right direction for sure,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said.
“I think there are opportunities for the PUD to help in this endeavor,” Tramblie said, later sharing that the PUD was already considering areas where a pilot project might help the most customers.
Tramblie gave the board a quick report on activity at the PUD.
“New construction requests are going through the roof,” Tramblie said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this busy.”
The crew is continuing an underground conversion in Grays River near the Covered Bridge and have decided to replace water pipe at the same time.
They’ve installed half, Tramblie said, while they focus on new connections.
Finding materials continues to be an issue, but luckily Tramblie was able to acquire a culvert needed to gain access to a location in Deep River where the PUD is replacing some poles, another ongoing project.
The commissioners reviewed a resolution to appoint Daniel Kay as the new general manager, effective September 13. According to the resolution his official start date will be August 26, when he will be expected to begin performing his duties in a limited capacity for training purposes. His salary has been set to a maximum of $148,200.
The resolution is to be brought to two regular session meetings.
Counsel Tim Hanigan said they were finalizing details with the new contract, and that he believed Kay might be at the next meeting. The commissioners will vote on the resolution then.
During public comment, Cathlamet Town Council Member David Olson thanked the PUD for their work behind the scenes to prepare for Bald Eagle Days.