One of my first introductions to city government was attending meetings of the VMEU Board. For those not familiar with what that stands for, it's the Vinton Municipal Electric Utility Board or the people who keep the lights on in Vinton and send you a bill every month.

This is also the group who will be deciding whether or not Vinton has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband internet. There have been weeks, no, months, no, actually years of discussion on the future of Vinton when it comes to whether or not we should build our own network or hope that someday someone will provide better service. For most people, as reflected in a statistically valid survey last February, and the vote in 2015, Vinton has waited long enough.

During the next three weeks, this board will decide whether to accept, delay acting on, or reject the bids for construction they received earlier in January. IF they accept the bids in a timely manner, the communications utility COULD be completed by the end of this year and the community could have the service it needs. If they don't go forward with the project, or they delay too long, it's dead in the water.

Obviously, Vinton Today depends on you having internet access, so for us, this is an important topic. Doing business from home, or trying to run a business in town, requires great internet service. That, we don’t have.

I don't live in town, but I can tell you this, I've heard enough complaints about the slow speeds and poor responsiveness of the current companies offering service to know that the citizens of Vinton should be interested in the decisions that are going to be made in these next meetings. The only decision I can think of in “recent” memory that was as monumental, was the decision by local business leaders to oppose constructing I-380 near Vinton. As far as I’m concerned, the internet is the interstate of today and I’d hate to see that happen again!

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 29th, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, the VMEU board will be meeting to review information from the engineer and several consultants about the bids that have been received. There will also be a time for citizens to give your input on the project.

On Tuesday, February 5th, the board will meet with the advisory committee it appointed in October to help with these decisions. The board and its advisory committee will discuss the options before the board.

On Tuesday, February 12th, at the regular VMEU board meeting, board members may decide on the fate of the project.

With the exception of two meetings held this past fall, attendance by the public at the meetings concerning the internet utility has been pretty sparse. Often there are just three or four die-hards watching the paint dry. I’m not promising a lot of excitement, but you might not want to miss free admission to a front row seat for these three meetings.

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