Purcell residents who are dissatisfied with the current internet service attended Monday’s Purcell City Council meeting to express support for allowing Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Fiber to come into the city limits.
Cautioned against mentioning specific companies by name, residents were hard pressed to voice their frustration without naming names.
Internet service in Purcell is presently provided by Windstream and SuddenLink.
During public comments, William Call told the council that both he and his wife are in favor of OEC Fiber.
“We have two (providers),” he said. “Why can’t they do their job and live up to the contracts we have with them?”
Kayla Thompson voiced her frustration with her current internet service, calling it a “disaster.”
In her case, it is one company or forego the internet. The other internet company in town doesn’t serve Thompson’s side of the street.
Poor service has been problematic for Thompson who is employed by the state. She was unable to work from home during the statewide shutdown at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring. Also her granddaughter who lives with her was unable to do her schoolwork online when Purcell Public Schools went to virtual classes in the spring.
“I hope everyone looks at OEC and the service they provide,” she added.
Also addressing the council was Norma VanWinkle. She and her husband have had both of the local providers and now use Hughes.net.
“There’s been no service from any of them,” she said.
Nancy Maynard shared that she talked to one fiber optic company that installed fiber in Purcell and was told the company “would not allow” residents to hook onto their service.
At her home outside the city, she dropped the local provider and went with OEC Fiber, calling the difference in service “magic.”
David Goodspeed is OEC Fiber President/OEC IT Vice President.
Construction on the fiber network began in October 2018 and went into the first home February 2019. Since then more than 13,500 subscribers are receiving online services through OEC Fiber.
“We don’t cut corners,” he told the council in his presentation.
OEC Fiber offers two internet packages priced at $55 and $85 per month, as well as land line telephone service and fiber TV.
The company is regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and is permitted to come into Purcell to provide service to residents.
Both city manager Dale Bunn and mayor Ted Cox said the city is open to bringing another internet service provider into the city.
Cox said it’s apparent from emails and telephone calls he’s received that public perception is the city wants to block OEC.
“That’s not the case,” he assured residents at the meeting.
City attorney Ted Haxel said he met with Goodspeed in October and was provided a contract to look over. However there was no follow up contact by the OEC executive, he said.
The council also approved a resolution stating the city’s policy that “all public safety personnel costs are substantially dedicated to the COVID-19 response efforts…throughout the ongoing state of emergency.”
Bunn said the resolution is “to qualify for a significant amount of money” through the CARES Act and Coronavirus Relief Fund. At stake is possibly $494,000, he added.
The council opted to look to other municipalities to see how they deal with non-profit organizations those cities are affiliated with when those organizations engage in political activities.
“What is the policy?” Cox asked. “The city can’t go down these paths.”
While stressing he wasn’t singling out any group, Cox later said this “isn’t directed at the chamber of commerce at all.”
“We can’t dictate how groups do their own business,” the mayor added.
In other business, the council:
- declared as surplus property 18 iPads and two laptop computers;
- approved a $133,184.25 payment for work on plans for an interchange at State Highway 74 West and I-35;
- approved a $34,413.12 payment to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for Green Avenue improvements between Grant Street and Washington Street;
- approved a resolution to work with ASCOG on a REAP grant to rebuild a sewer lift station at Juneau and South Canadian;
- declared 624 Apache a dilapidated structure; and
- approved budget amendments of $8,000 for Street and Alley Capital Appropriations, $2,329.43 for the animal shelter, and $54,927.81 for miscellaneous revenue.