Opelika residents voice concerns over sale of OPS ONE at city council meeting last week

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By Robert Noles
Photojournalist

Mayor Gary Fuller and the Opelika City Council tackled a full agenda during last week’s meeting.
Fuller recognized the March of Dimes’ “World Awareness Day” Nov. 17 with a proclamation.
Hunter Thornton and Roger Bell received a proclamation from Fuller celebrating the 25-year existence of the Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour. Former Opelika resident Jan Jones started the tradition with the placing of her hand-painted figures on the front porches or yards of more than 60 homes and 10 city blocks. It is now regarded by multiple magazines and publications as one of the South’s premier Christmastime events.
Fuller, OPS Director Derek Lee and Brent Poteet recognized the following OPS ONE employees for their contributions: Don Boyd, Jeff Johnson, and Kathy Pruitt. They will officially become Point Broadband employees Friday.
Fuller and Opelika Fire Department Chief Byron Prather announced those nominated for Fire Fighter of the Year: Jamie Williams, C Shift; Ryan White, B Shift and Dave Davis, A Shift. Davis received the award for his efforts to overcome serious injuries during a fire-training exercise earlier this year and return as a full-fledged member of the fire department.
During the citizen communications portion of the meeting, Opelika residents Nelson Marsh, Kelly Currenton, Joyce Newland, Garrison Snelling and Michael Lusker spoke in reference to the sale of OPS ONE and the city’s telecommunication fiber network and assets to Point Broadband of West Point, Georgia.
“A few years ago, we had the opportunity to start discussing this, and as a city, we decided that we wanted to lay down this fiber network. The city pushed hard and we all came together and agreed by public vote that it should come about,” Marsh said. “Now, we’re at a point where it’s believed by many members of our city and indeed many professionals that we may not need to own this asset anymore … I’m here to ask the council today if it’s reasonable that we sell the largest asset our city has sold in recent memory, possibly ever? Is it reasonable that maybe we should give as much consideration, as much thought and as much pportunity for public engagement as possible to the sale of this very very iconic and special asset that we have?”
Minutes later, the council finalized the city’s sale of the assets to Point Broadband with the approval of a franchise agreement.
In other business, the council:
– requests for the annual LRCOG Mardi Gras/Walk and Victorian Christmas Front Porch Tour
– approved resolutions concerning the purchase of three city vehicles, annual appropriation contracts with the Alabama Council of Human Relations, Museum of East Alabama and EASE
– entered into a tree management agreement with the NRC
– appointed Sherri Reese to the LRCG.

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