Council Cools to Wi-Fi Bid

Ridgeway Wants Upgrades to Existing Service

RIDGEWAY – Town Council was lukewarm during June 11 follow-up discussions on last month’s proposal by TruVista Communications to turn downtown Ridgeway into a Wi-Fi hotspot, suggesting upgrades would be required by the internet service provider before the Town locked itself into a contract.

“I’ve had complaints from several people downtown,” Councilman Russ Brown said, “(that) you can’t get work done because the internet is so inconsistent. I’ve been in the (Old Town Hall) restaurant when the TVs and computers are inconsistent over there. They can’t cash people out when it’s busy because it’s so up and down, it fluctuates so much.”

During Council’s May 14 meeting, 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.

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.

But last week, that proposal bumped into a Council concerned with the quality of service.

“I really would like to see some upgrades to that before we agree to a five-year contract at $500 a month,” Brown said.

Mayor Charlene Herring said she would present those concerns to TruVista for further discussion.

Sidewalk Repair

During her report to Council, Herring suggested exploring avenues of funding to repair a section of sidewalk on Highway 21 in front of the Post Office. The estimated cost to repair the sidewalk, she said, was $235,000. Herring said she would discuss the matter with State Sen. Creighton Coleman to determine if any funds were available through the County Transportation Committee.

Expenditures

Council OK’d $899 for the purchase of a bush hog to clear rights of way for the Water and Sewer Department. Council also discussed whether or not they may be able to recoup any of the $8,740 the Town recently spent repairing a fire hydrant on Dogwood Avenue. The hydrant was destroyed recently when a car crashed into it. Because the car was later reported stolen, Council said, the Town’s insurance company denied their claim.

New Kids on the Block

Council voted to extend a lease to Dr. Virginia Schaffer’s new venture, Health, Wellness and Education, at 128 Palmer St., the former home of Just Around the Corner. During her presentation to Council, Schaffer said the business will be devoted to the sale of nutritional products and health-related services.