~EcliptixNet Broadband provides the story behind the threat of Northport losing Internet Service ~
and Commissioner response to a residents e-mail
Northport residents were recently told as of November 10th (this Thursday) their internet service would be shut down.
I just spoke to Jennifer Tamietti, President/Owner of EcliptixNet Broadband, the current broadband provider. Jennifer and her husband began providing this service to small communities because they understand first hand the importance the internet plays in the lives of residents living in small, remote communities. When her husband was in the Military, Jennifer and her three small children were living in a remote town in Wyoming and had only a landline internet connection with which to communicate with him. Years later, when the USDA Rural Development Program offered Community Connection Awards/Grants to provide free Broadband Services to rural communities, Jennifer and her husband decided to jump on board.
Their company, EcliptixNet Broadband, was awarded a portion of the USDA Community Connection grant to provide Broadband Internet services to the Northport communities. They used the funding to put a relay site on the Scoop Mountain tower site in 2008.
At the time Sound Communications operated the site/land and they made a “hand shake” deal with EcliptixNet, allowing them the use of the property free of charge, with the warning that the co-landowners, Stevens County & Spokane County , planned to eventually build a tower of their own at this site.
In 2010 Stevens County & Spokane County decided to take the land “back” from Sound Communications, at which time they made EcliptixNet sign a month to month lease to keep their relay equipment/tower on the land.
EcliptixNet agreed to enter into a lease with the Counties, and continued to provide internet services to the community, and most importantly to provide free services to dozens of critical facilities in Northport. Some of these facilities include the Town Hall, Public Works, the Fire Station, Public School District #211, the Public Library, the Community Health Center, and the Northport Community Center (that houses ten computers free to all residents).
Knowing that eventually Stevens and Spokane County would build their own tower at the site, EcliptixNet applied for a permit to build their own tower at a location nearby, (this was financially made possible to the small company because of funding opportunities from the Stimulis Package).
EcliptixNet just received the permit to begin construction on their own tower a week ago, as the permit process took 13 months to complete! Due to winter weather they will be unable to begin construction of their tower until next Spring, at the earliest.
Unfortunately on September 28th Stevens County informed EcliptixNet that they were moving forward with the construction of their tower, and EcliptixNet would have to vacate the premises by November 10th. They gave EcliptixNet a little over a months notice, yet it took them 13 months to approve a permit that would have solved this issue entirely.
Another solution; they could allow EcliptixNet to continue to operate at this site along with the addition of the new tower Stevens and Spokane County are building. This would seem logical since….THE TOWER BEING CONSTRUCTED BY STEVENS COUNTY AND SPOKANE COUNTY WILL ONLY PROVIDE INTERNET SERVICES TO MEDICAL EMERGENCY SERVICES. IT WILL NOT PROVIDE INTERNET SERVICE TO THE RESIDENTS OR ANY OF THE OTHER COMMUNITY FACILITIES.
EcliptixNet contacted the Stevens County Commissioners to request a 6-8 month extension on their lease so they could continue to provide the community internet service uninterrupted while building their own tower at the new location.
During the meeting regarding the extension of their permit request, Stevens County Representative Mark Curtis told EcliptixNet that the community and residents of Northport had “ample means to other options”, therefore EcliptixNet’s permit request extension was denied.
Confused by their decision, and Mark Curtis’s statement, (as there are no other broadband providers available to Northport residents), Jennifer and her husband contacted the co-owner of the land, Spokane County. After hearing their argument Spokane County Commissioners were also confused by the Stevens County Commissioners decision.
The Spokane County Commissioners scheduled a meeting to discuss this issue with the Stevens County Commissioners on November 8th (TOMORROW) at 9:15 am. EcliptixNet will be attending the meeting at the Spokane County Commissioners’ Hearing Room. This meeting will include the Stevens County Commissioners via teleconference.
Northport Community Subscribers: If possible, attend this meeting at the Stevens County location in Colville. Let your presence and voices be heard if you do not want to lose this valuable service!
To reiterate, EcliptixNet is not asking for a permanent location on this site, they are only requesting of either County, that they be able to remain at the Scoop tower site until the construction of their tower is complete, making it possible to continue providing the Northport community with uninterrupted internet services.
Jennifer said there is nothing financially for them to gain from this, they are simply fighting for the extension of the permit use for the same reason they began their Company and became a part of the USDA Rural Development Program;
“We are just looking out for the greater good for these small communities.”
EcliptixNet is willing to answer any question or concerns and/or clear up any rumors. Jennifer asked me to tell anyone interested to call or e-mail her. See contact info below.
Contact Information for EcliptixNet Broadband, Inc
Sincerely,Malcolm Friedman, Commissioner, District 3