Council Explores Free Downtown Wi-Fi

Arch Plans Progress, Cotton Yard Lease OK’d

RIDGEWAY – Town Council, during their May 14 meeting, received a proposal from TruVista Communications for turning downtown into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The service would potentially cost the Town a little more than $498 a month, but would provide a free internet connection to users in the downtown area.

Brannon Hough, a TruVista Business Solutions Specialist, told Council her company would be willing to waive any installation costs for the 5-meg Ethernet service, “providing that we are able to put up a Council-approved sign somewhere in the town that says it’s provided by TruVista.”

Hough said TruVista was proposing three access points within the town – one at the Century House and two on Main Street – that “will create a wireless network in downtown Ridgeway that can be used by anyone.”

Creating a downtown hotspot was part of Ridgeway’s initial long-range strategic planning talks led by Scott Slayton of the S.C. Municipal Association last September. During a follow-up planning session last November, however, free Wi-Fi failed to make the final cut of priorities; although Mayor Charlene Herring did indicate that Council would explore the possibility of doing so.

Randy Allen, a TruVista sales engineer, told Council during the May 14 presentation that the proposed wireless network could accommodate up to 15 network names with up to 100 users per network. The network also comes with a feature that would allow the Town and businesses to track the number of visitors to Ridgeway, whether they log onto a network or not..

“If a smart phone passes through the area, they talk to the wireless network,” Allen said. “That’s just the nature of smart phones and tablets. So these devises will actually give you a report of how many people pass through your town. It reports on how long they stay. And it reports repeat visitors.”

Allen said the proposed five-year lease of the equipment was guaranteed and the equipment was forward compatible for advancing technology.

Ridgeway School Arch

Councilman Heath Cookendorfer, reporting on findings from his committee to stabilize and restore the last remaining vestiges of the old Ridgeway School – the arch on Church and Means streets – said the first order of business was to keep the structure from tumbling down.

Cookendorfer said the committee reached out to several local brick masons, but only one – King D. Murphy Qualls – came out to have a look at the patient. Cookendorfer said Qualls and the architect, Meredith Drakeford, agreed that the concrete base of the arch must be repaired and a 12-inch concrete footing installed to keep the arch standing. Afterwards, Cookendorfer said, the brick can be repaired and replaced.

Cookendorfer said Ridgeway resident David Waters, who purchased the old bricks when the school building was demolished, was willing to sell back to the Town as many as needed to repair the arch.

Ridgeway was awarded a $500 Community Enhancement Grant last fall for the initial phase of arch restoration, but Herring said two more quotes were required on the work. Council gave Cookendorfer the green light to proceed with the repairs, provided two more bids were secured.

Sewage Plant Upgrades

Council also gave the OK for a $201,700 bid from J.L. Construction of Piedmont for upgrades to the Town’s wastewater treatment plant. Ridgeway received a $220,000 grant several months ago from the Rural Infrastructure Authority for the project. Work is expected to begin next month.

Cotton Yard Lease

After three months of haggling and postponements, Council finally agreed to a $300 a year lease with Norfolk Southern Railway for the Cotton Yard property in the center of town. Council also agreed to a $752.60 liability insurance policy through Insurance of Fairfield.


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