Comprehensive plan meetings generate questions on Internet, roads and nursing home issues

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Linn County's existing comprehensive plan was slated to be in effect for five more years, however, changes in the county pushed officials to renew it now. (Journal file photo)

MOUND CITY – On Monday, the Linn County Commissioners discussed the three public meetings about the proposed updating of the Linn County Comprehensive Plan that were held last week. There was a meeting in each commission district.

Linn County Chair Rick James said that he had heard from some people that the meetings were not on track about the comprehensive plan.

“We may not have asked all the right questions to the people,” James said.

I want to make sure that the word gets out that Internet was a big topic. Internet has to be a concern, he added.

County Commissioner McCullough said that the Internet around Centerville and Blue Mound was also brought up at the Pleasanton meeting.

James said that his part of the county on the northeast had perfect Internet service. However, the county needs to make sure that the Internet is part of the topic for the planning and zoning people as they develop the comprehensive plan.

Currently Peoples Telecommunications LLC provides fiber optic service for much of the northeast corner around La Cygne and Linn Valley. In the southeastern portion of the county Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative Inc. based in Girard has installed fiber optic cable.

Parker, Blue Mound and Centerville have telephone service by CenturyLink, a Louisiana-based phone company. CenturyLink offers only DSL (digital subscriber line) to households within three miles of the operating buildings in those towns.

Mound City has a mixture of CenturyLink and Craw-Kan.

Many people in the western portion of the county must rely on private companies that use antennas to provide Internet service, however, getting to every home there is a problem because of hills and trees that block the line-of-sight signal. And some use their cell phone as a hotspot to get Internet service. Another option is satellite services which are expensive.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said that companies are allocated certain areas through the corporation commission.

McCullough asked how the county could contact the company that has that territory about improving service, and James asked if there was any action the committee could take.

Thompson replied that there was probably very little the county could do. But it could ask the companies what it could do to entice them to upgrade service.

McCullough said that he would be pretty upset if he was trying to run a business over there and did not have Internet.

West said the he would get with them over the concerns to see what the county could do.

Just make sure that the person who is doing our comprehensive plan knows about the Internet problem, James said. He also asked West to pass along to the committee that the county would be happy to send letters to the companies.

Another issue that nobody has talked about is roads, James said. There may be a lot of money coming down, a few million dollars given to our county. We don’t know that, but with the new infrastructure bill that President Biden is working on, it is possible, he said.

“Are we going to just continue on with gravel roads or are going to try and pre-plan and have certain roads paved if the federal government is going to pay for it?” James asked.

To have that plan done prior to that would be very beneficial and perhaps too forward thinking? I don’t think so, James said. The county just keeps putting gravel in the holes, and every time it rains it just washes them out.

Or, he asked, do you go down roads that have multiple houses and come up with a plan about which roads need to be paved or chip and sealed?

County Commissioner Jim Johnson said that he had multiple people come to him in the Parker area about the railroad tracks being a problem and would like to blacktop an area of five or six miles to get them into Miami County on pavement.

West said that it was brought up at the two meetings he attended that maybe there was chance of going back out on the Internet survey and trying to reopen it. Maybe we should go out there and ask more pointed questions not just what they think, he said.

West said one of the more on-point issues at the Pleasanton meeting was the development of the U.S. 69 Highway corridor and what the citizens would like to see.

Johnson said he got beat up at the Mound City meeting about the Prescott nursing home. There were some people there who wanted more numbers and people who wanted the county to just give the nursing home the money.

James concluded the discussion by asking West to have Claire Collins, the consultant working with the county on the plan, ask the comprehensive plan committee how they would accomplish roads being paved, what roads are necessary to be paved and how it could be spread out over all districts.

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