Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Victoria Fowler
Gazette Reporter 

Bid for fiber to home project


November 14, 2019

The Port of Whitman County staff received a bid for the materials and procurement for the fiber-to-home project in Rosalia.

Back in August, the port was awarded $1 million from Whitman County’s .09 funds to design and construct a fiber-to-the-home network in five rural towns in Whitman County.

“We received one bid from Graybar Electric for $132,580.41,” said Kara Riebold, chief operating officer for the port. “This is a very competitive price. I was able to do the materials and procurement for the Port of Garfield, and I got to see two bids down there and these prices are in line with that and in some categories cheaper of a unit price.”

Graybar Electric is based in Clayton, Mo.

John Love, port commissioner, made the motion to accept the bid for materials from Graybar Electric. The motion was passed by a 3-0 vote.

With this project, communities will be done one at a time with Rosalia being the first. Port Commissioner Tom Kammerzell asked if the port had any commitments from Rosalia residents for the service.

Riebold said the provider will be the one responsible for getting commitments.

“We don't want to confuse the path and have anyone sign-up directly with us for several reasons; we aren't equipped to bill, we aren't equipped to sign them up and we won't be providing any services,” Riebold said. “The provider will be going out and selling the services and talking to end-users.”

The port has a commitment with the Community Economic Revitalization Board to accept a million-dollar loan and million-dollar grant as well as the .09 funds for these projects.

CERB provides funding to local governments and federally-recognized tribes for public infrastructure which supports private business growth and expansion.

The estimated total cost for the fiber-to-the-home project, for all five rural communities, is $4 million. The Port committed $1 million from the .09 grant, along with a $1 million match for the grant, $1 million of which is a loan from CERB and the additional $1 million is a grant from CERB.

It was explained, by Riebold that materials ordered for Rosalia are intended to cover 100 percent of the area since it is the first community of this project.

“We ordered 100 percent because we know we are doing four more communities so we can use those same drop cables and those same network interface devices for the other communities,” Riebold said.

She said the number of materials that are ordered after Rosalia will change slightly, but it's good for this first location to have all the materials needed on hand.

Riebold suggested that the port will try to encourage the providers to sell with a low non-recurring cost when the construction crew is in town, but once the construction crew leaves that price would go up.

“It's not a one-time thing, people move in and out. It happens,” Riebold said. “We are going to encourage providers to do their best to sell in that window as much as they can and it's in their best interest to.”

She added that the providers can come back to them and say they aren't going to change their price for the homeowner either way and will always keep it low.

“That's the providers decision on what they charge,” Riebold said. “My intent is to really focus our communication with the providers.

The expected start of construction is in the second quarter of 2020.


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