Rappahannock News

Smith steps down from Broadband Authority at Supervisor­s first 2023 meeting

Board considers courthouse renderings, resumes boundary change talks

- By Julia Shanahan

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.

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