BOC signs GEMA, Charter contracts
By Stephanie Johns
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and a five-year contract with Charter Communications during its called meeting last Tuesday night.
Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Director Gwen Ruark explained that Morgan County is designated as a host county during hurricane evacuations. As such, the county is supposed to be able to take on an extra 10,000 residents in the event of a hurricane. She clarified that the county could take on 800 to 900 evacuees, not 10,000.
Ruark said that when a hurricane happens, assistance agencies such as the American Red Cross go to the site of the hurricane, leaving their home communities without their help to handle evacuees.
Ruark explained that by signing this agreement, GEMA will provide the county with enough supplies to run four shelters for five days and an 18-by-24-foot trailer to store the supplies. It also will pay for training for volunteers.
Morgan County has both an emergency animal shelter and a special needs shelter.
Ruark said that schools were no longer approved as evacuation shelters partly for security reasons and partly for more practical ones.
“Hurricane season starts on June 1 and everybody knows it goes through November,” she said. “You can’t run a school and host evacuees at the same time.”
Trevor Giddens, Morgan County IT director, shared details of the proposed Charter Communications contract for phone and internet services.
He said that switching from AT&T will get the county better services for better cost, “It’s a win-win.”
The switch will save the county $6,000 per month; they paid $20,000 a month to AT&T. Under the new contract they will pay $14,000 per month to Charter.
The internet service connection will go from six to 75 megabytes (Mbps) pipe while the service between the county and the public safety complex will go from 10 to 100 Mbps. This connection will allow both locations to share technology and will keep the county from paying for services twice.
Trevor said they’ve been trying to break the stronghold AT&T had on the county.
Morgan County Attorney Christian Henry said the county had to go to court to get refunds it was do for overcharges.
Russ Edmonds, major account executive for Charter Communications, explained that Charter uses a robust fiber at the core of its network. The fiber, he said, is not subject to the same degree of weather or electrical surges and degradation of power equipment that copper-based services are.
Commission Chairwoman Ellen Warren said it sounded like a “no brainer” to her.
Printed in the September 27, 2012 edition