Allband asks to continue fiber installation

ALPENA – During its meeting on Friday the Alpena County Road Commission considered a request from Allband Communications Cooperative that would allow the nonprofit organization to continue working to install fiber in the rights-of-way in remote areas of the county beyond what is normally allowed.

The road commission previously allowed Allband to work beyond the normal deadline, but recent events have raised some concerns about having work done during the winter months.

Managing Director Larry Orcutt told the board he informed Allband it was subject to a seasonal suspension of work, which forced Allband to quit all work that would take place in the rights-of-way. The road commission determined the contractors performing the work were not complying with directives given to Allband and as a result hazardous conditions were being created for the motoring public.

Orcutt said trucks had been parked on the road and work was being done in places where ice was present and sand had not been spread. Orcutt said a letter from Allband General Manager Ronald Siegel Jr. requested a variance so work could resume and a list of the areas where work needed to be done included. Before the board would approve a variance, it requested Orcutt visit each of the worksites to see if it was practical to be done now, or until after winter.

“We try to limit the amount of work during the winter season and issue a suspension in November and we did waiver for that past practice for Allband, but had criteria set up with it that would allow them to work until we thought it was unsafe or a detriment to the road right-a-way,” Orcutt said. “We came to that point a week ago because their operations are now causing hazards to the motorists.”

Orcutt said the permit issued to Allband to work on the roads expired on Dec. 31 and it will be required to purchase another permit before the work can be continued.

In other business:

  • the commission voted to have Neil MacArthur serve another year as the chairman and Darrel Spragg as the vice chairman. The board appointed Orcutt to continue as director and Sue Crowell as the board secretary. The meetings for 2013 will be on the first and third Tuesday each month at 3 p.m. at the county garage.
  • the meeting was the first for new commissioner Fred Sterns who replaced Ray Nickles.
  • a public hearing will be held during the next meeting on Tuesday at 3 p.m. the hearing is for the proposed projects which are eligible for federal funding.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689.