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Markle council members hear upbeat report about fiber optic at meeting

The two members of the Markle Town Council listened to an upbeat report about fiber optic service at its regular meeting Wednesday, Jan. 16, from Wells County Economic Development Executive Director Chad Kline.

The report was generated from a town-wide survey, of which 106 Markle residents responded to questions related to their broadband connectivity. Kline said findings revealed the majority of uses are connected to Frontier Internet services, and most users are dissatisfied with their Internet service, although the price of the services were largely rated as fair. Residents, most of whom currently have DSL Internet service, indicated they would connect to fiber service if it was available.

“He (Kline) was just really positive about somebody wanting to do this and it coming, but he didn’t say who or what,” said Clerk-Treasurer Carolyn Hamilton.

One of the survey questions, “If reliable fiber Internet service was made available for $59.95 a month for 50mbs download with no data caps, how likely would you be to subscribe to this new service?” received a 78 percent response of “very likely.”

Another question, “If a new gig premium home/business fiber Internet service were made available which provided exceedingly fast reliable connections, how interested would you be in receiving this service?” was met with 51 percent responding as extremely interested and 29 percent very interested.

Kline also presented the Wells County Economic Development’s 2018 annual report to the council. He reported $58.9 million in new economic investment in 2018, amounting to 128 new jobs and $5.76 million in new payroll.

Among highlights of the past year, the WCED:

• Received 56 site leads, submitted six responses for information of current qualified available sites and finalized two industrial attraction projects, IQ Fibers LLC, a manufacturer of cellulose fiber products and EnviroKure, a liquid biofertilizer company.

• Conducted more than 125 visits with current businesses to discuss expansions, program alignment, logistics and retention challenges.

• Facilitated $35,000 in low-interest loans through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, which were awarded to Yergy’s State Road BBQ and Ellie Grace & Co.

• Hosted its first internship fair to connect students with local businesses for work-based learning opportunities.

• Facilitated training programs with 52 Wells County employees attending, many of whom received national certifications.
In a third item, the council approved Mike Grant to join the Wells County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as representative of the town.

Councilmen also signed the approved Huntington County Department of Community Development Flood Response and Evacuation Plan.
In another action item, the council approved the purchase of a generator to be used in the town hall office. The generator, battery and installation costs come to $6,025, purchased from Markle Do it Best Hardware.

A third councilman was not chosen at the meeting, to take the place of Eric Bower, who resigned due to moving out of the area. Hamilton said the council has not found anyone yet who is interested in taking over the seat.

The next Markle Town Council meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Markle Fire Station.