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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims

KwiKom to connect Parker; criticized for cable installation

Updated: Feb 12

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – The good news for Parker residents is that Iola-based KwiKom Communications will start hooking up fiber optic internet service in the next couple of weeks. The bad news for the company: One of the county commissioners was unhappy about how the below ground cables were installed elsewhere in the county.

At the request of the Linn County Commission, KwiKom representatives met with them on Monday, Feb. 5, about concerns that Commissioner Jim Johnson had about the installation of fiber-optic cable along 1600 Road.

When KwiKom Director of Government Affairs Business Development John Terry introduced himself and the people with him, Commissioner Jim Johnson said that it had been brought to his attention that they had been trenching down the road. 

“I don’t see it in the contract,” said Johnson.

Johnson, who has campaigned during his time in office for cleaning out roadside ditches, asked what would happen if the county road grader hit the cable. He wanted to know if the county would be charged for the repair.

“The only place that’s its in the road is where we had to come out and go around a pole which the tail is sticking up right there,” said Tony Guinn from Lan-Tel Construction.

“Why didn’t you go to the other side of it?” asked Johnson.

 He said they could not get on the backside with the pole there.

Johnson repeated, “The contract says to stay off the roads.”

Guinn said his worker could dig up that tail where it’s coming from along the back edge of the right of way.

Johnson told them where they came around the corner on 1600 Road to go south, that’s in the road there.

“That section of road we are actually up in the slope of it,” said Guinn.

Johnson pointed out that the contract said 15 feet from the center of the road or 5 feet from the edge whichever is greater.

“I don’t think you are there,” said Johnson. “I seen trailers sitting there in the road unhooked, I don’t understand why you unhook trailers in the road.”

“We can take care of that where it won’t happen anymore,” said Guinn.

Johnson asked if there was a third party inspector and he stood up. 

Moving forward the third party inspector should be there all the time, said Johnson.

“You have cable in our ditches and then it gets cut and we have to pay for it,” said Johnson.

McCullough asked that, if when the county ran into issues like that, does the county send KwiKom a request for information (RFI) to see how to proceed so there’s documentation.

“No, not necessarily,” said Guinn. “We’ve done enough work with them and other companies that when this issue arises, we know that we have to get the pipe back to the other side with the plow. It comes out of the ground to get around poles and such things. It will eventually be dug over to where it is supposed to be, either right at the front of the pole or the back side of the pole.”

“We understand that construction never goes as is says on the paperwork or in the book,” said McCullough trying to smooth things over. “So, can we just follow with requests for information (RFI) and stuff like that so that we are all on the same page? And we can continue with a good relationship and nobody’s pointing fingers and we’re getting along?”

Johnson said he would like to go back and verify where it’s all at.

“How’s the project going are we coming up on the 24 months yet?” asked McCullough.

“That’ll be in July,” said Terry.

Commission Chair Jason Hightower asked how far along they were with the project.

Terry said that the project was about three-quarters finished. They were working now between Centerville and Blue Mound. He said Parker should light up sometime this week.

Johnson continued with his complaints, “You guys pulled your blade off and brought it down south so I guess you thought you wasn’t doing.”

Guinn acknowledge that Shaun West, county public works director, stopped them. 

“If you were following what the contract said, you wouldn’t have pulled it off, right?” asked Johnson.

“No, I pulled it off because I talked to Shaun and asked him, ‘Are you telling me to stop work until we have this meeting, or are you telling me to go ahead,’ keep mindful …” said Guinn. 

“Why did you stop?” asked Johnson.

“I stopped in case of the fact that you were going to tell us to rip it all out. It was a safer play for me to move the plow down to the other section,” answered Guinn.

Johnson said he was one of three commissioners but he wanted to go back and verify where the cables are.

“Do you guys have paperwork on that or how can we do that?” asked McCullough.

“We turn in an as-built when the project’s done that has where everything is,” said Terry.

“Will we get a copy of that?” asked Hightower. 

Yes, answered Terry.

 “I’d like to see it now myself, I’d like to see where it’s at,” said Johnson. “It concerns me when the inspector is not there every day.”

“But at the end of the day they are taking responsibility for it if we clean that ditch out and it gets hit, right?” asked McCullough. “Can you guys send us over documentation stating that and from here forward. Jim does that work for you?”

“Do you actually move it then or what are we going to do?” asked Johnson. He asked if the company going to go back and move it or just going to let it stay where it was.

“I mean if we hit it then I mean that’s the issue, right? I mean if we clean the ditches out and we hit it, they’re going to take responsibility for it if it’s not where its at,” said McCullough.

Hightower said, “And you are asking to have that in writing saying that we have agreed that it would be their issue since it was off variance?” 

“I’d just like to have documentation stating that we are all on the same page of what the issue was and that you guys take responsibility for it if it is ever hit during ditching or whatever we’re are going to do and from here on out we just document, document, document. There ain’t nothing else we can do,” said McCullough.

McCullough asked if the county could just get documentation that the will not charge for fixing the line if we hit it. He said he would like to keep moving forward.

Johnson told the company representatives they should have come to the commission before it was installed in the road.

McCullough said he did not want to do RFIs if KwiKom was going to take full responsibility for anything they are going to hit.

“So, we need the memorandum of understanding,” said Hightower.

Kwikom representatives said they would be okay with that.

McCullough said that KwiKom was going to have as-builts at the end and the county will have them on record.

County Counselor Gary Thompson suggested the commission could agree to a memorandum of understanding that would lay out the procedure that anytime the KwiKom installation is outside of the regulation location that they would  take responsibility for repairs.

That memorandum would lay out the process that they are going to submit a written RFI to West, he said. He asked if the commission was going to allow West to tentatively approve those so they can keep moving and bring them to you the next week or are you going to make them hold up.

“Sounds like I don’t have a choice,” said Johnson.

The commission and KwiKom agreed to on the following: Any deviations from the locations near the edge of the road would be notated on the as-built and while the cable installers would notify West about the change. It was decided that it would not be necessary for West to bring the change before the commissioners.                                                                                                                                                                        

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