Thurman goes wireless, but not seamlessly

THURMAN Thurman now offers visitors wireless internet service at the town hall, but it came with some controversy. Supervisor John Haskell said the towns occupancy tax committee came up with the idea of offering high speed internet for tourists, using occupancy tax money. Haskell went ahead and contracted with HughesNet, a satellite internet provider, to install the service. Town employees are now enjoying their high speed connection, since prior to the installation, the town had dial up service. With dial up, one of our Tech II guys would have to take a computer home where he had high speed service in order to fix any problems we had, Haskell said. Assessor and Deputy Bookkeeper and Secretary Sue Baker said she gets her work done faster, and now can receive larger files, which were blocked or too slow with dial up internet service. But there was the wrinkle in the concept. Town board candidate Jim Ligon and his wife, Maria, brought up the fact that the whole process was not legal. County Attorney Paul Dusek told Haskell that since town employees use the high speed service as well as being a potential draw for tourists, the town could not use occupancy tax money to pay for it. Haskell then learned that the two-year contract he signed with HughesNet was illegal. Technically, since occupancy tax money wont pay the $750 installation or the $99 per month fee, the town board should have approved the idea. Haskell can authorize payments of up to $600, but not above without town board approval. But there are three or four town board members on the occupancy tax committee that were all for the high speed internet idea, Haskell said. At the monthly town board meeting on Oct. 16, Haskell said the subject of the new service came up, but nobody wanted to get rid of it. Some wanted to know if we could get a grant and buy some laptops for people to use at the town hall, Haskell said. So Ive got our grant writer on it. Meanwhile, in order to clear up the problem of the two year contract that Haskell signed, he contacted HughesNet and they agreed to reduce the term of the contract to one year, once Haskell faxed them a copy of the law prohibiting him from signing a two-year contract.

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