Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative will host a series of six public meetings in September concerning a high-speed internet project before bringing the decision to a vote by members of the JWEMC coverage area.
Following the six community meetings—three in Lawrence County and three in Morgan County—JWEMC will mail ballots to all its members beginning in October.
A special meeting will be held on Nov. 1 at the JWEMC office in Trinity to allow the cooperative’s members to vote for or against the proposed internet project.
JWEMC General Manager and CEO George Kitchens announced earlier this year that the cooperative’s interest in fiber optic internet service could come into fruition in about five years following public approval for the plan.
“I hope our members will seriously consider voting yes on this proposal,” Kitchens said. “Many parts of our two-county service area have little to no Internet service. More than eighty years ago, JWEMC brought electricity to these underserved rural communities. We know doing the same with high-speed Internet service has the potential to vastly improve the quality of life in Lawrence and Morgan counties.”
The series of meetings will allow JWEMC authorities to address concerns about cost and extent of services and answer any further questions from the public.
“Our members are the owners of the cooperative, and without their approval, none of this moves forward,” said Kitchens.
He said the residential service offered to the area would provide internet speeds of 100 megabytes per second with business services offered at one gigabyte.
Satellite companies with slower speeds including HughesNet, DirecTV and Viasat currently provide internet service to Lawrence County, while Moulton and Town Creek residents may receive access from land-line companies Charter and AT&T.
District 5 Commissioner Bobby Burch said many rural areas throughout the county do not have internet access at all.
“We’re fortunate that Joe Wheeler EMC had the foresight to look into ways this service can further improve quality of life within the county,” Burch said.
Lawrence County meetings will take place on Sept. 10 at Lawrence County High School auditorium, on Sept. 19 at East Lawrence High School cafeteria, and on Sept. 26 at Hatton High School cafeteria. All meetings are set for 6 p.m. on their scheduled dates.
News updates and further information regarding the meetings and special election will be posted on the Joe Wheeler EMC website at www.jwemc.coop and across the cooperative’s social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.