Smith steps down from Broadband Authority at Supervisors first 2023 meeting
Board considers courthouse renderings, resumes boundary change talks
The Rappahannock County Broadband Authority will look different this year after Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith declined reappointment, making her the only Supervisor to no longer serve on the authority.
In the first Board of Supervisors meeting of the year last week, members maintained continuity in most of the county’s committees. Smith’s term on the Broadband Authority, along with Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Van Carney, expired this month.
Carney accepted his reappointment, and Smith instead nominated Piedmont resident Margaret Bond, who was unanimously appointed. Bond said Smith approached her prior to the Jan. 4 meeting and asked if she would be willing to serve on the authority if nominated, which she was.
Smith did not return several requests for comment on her not serving another term. Her decision to decline reappointment comes months after the Board of Supervisors voted to enter into a regional agreement with internet service provider All Points Broadband, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission (NSVRC) and seven other counties to expand broadband in the region.
She voted against entering into the regional agreement last spring, making her, along with Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier, the only elected officials across the eight counties to oppose the project.
Smith said during the meeting that she believes members of the Broadband Authority should cycle out to provide other residents an opportunity to
serve in order to make the process less political. Because Smith is a Supervisor, she will still vote on any proposals that come from the Broadband Authority.
Before Jan. 4, the Broadband Authority had been comprised of the same members as the Board of Supervisors for about two years. Bond was previously on the county’s Broadband Committee and records meeting minutes for the Board of Supervisors.
Bond said in an interview that she is in full support of the fiber installation with All Points, and having served on the Broadband Committee several years ago, she said she understands the significance of an internet service provider stepping up to deliver fiber-to-home broadband in Rappahannock County, which has a difficult and mountainous terrain.
“What we found out about the problem of extending adequate broadband service to rural areas was that the economics just didn't work,” Bond said. “There [were no internet service providers] that found it economically viable to come into Rappahannock County and extend service of really any sorts.”
Bond commended the work of Wakefield Supervisor and Chair Debbie Donehey and County Administrator Garrey Curry for using funds and programs during the COVID-19 pandemic to bring fiber broadband to Rappahannock County.