August 21, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013


---- — Some answered,but questions remain

Thank you for answering some of our questions in the newsletter sent out this past week.

The membership needs to know that PWRTC was intent on a new building before the school became available. Land was purchased just outside Buffalo in 2008 or 2009. Studies were done, architect plans done and redone, and PWRTC was actually “picking out furniture” when the school became a possibility.

In the article, this statement was made: “The Board proceeded to approve the acquisition and refurbishment of the existing, landmark Buffalo structure, which ultimately cost $2,839,000 in labor, supplies and equipment.” What were the costs for: the land, planning, architects fees, any funds spent for the first building that was going to be built; the land, planning, architect fees, and anything else not covered in that statement?

And contrary to the newsletter, not all operations are consolidated in the Buffalo building. Offices and equipment used to be in Star City with a building in Buffalo for telephone equipment. Now offices and equipment are in Buffalo with a building in Star City for telephone equipment. What has changed to make it worth the money spent?

The decisions to purchase land and build a new building were made in 2008, 2009 or possibly earlier. When was the grant written to take fiber to the hospitals? 2009? What came first? The decision to build or the grant to lay the fiber?

Other terms were used in the article. “Economically reasonable” is relative. How economically reasonable is it if the rural membership actually suffers due to lack of services? And “community-beneficial?” To Buffalo or White County, yes. To Star City or Pulaski County, no. A wash, at best.

The last paragraph: “The Board of Directors and PWRTC employees are stewards of the property that belongs to you, our members. As one of our cooperative principles, we take this stewardship role seriously and we are diligent in regards to fiscal responsibility.” If you take your role seriously, please answer these questions.

1. Will you remove the archaic and self-serving passage in the bylaws that allows any board member to choose for him or herself to run again, not allowing the nominating committee to take a pass on directors that are not serving the membership?

2. Will you consider an advisory board that is separate and apart from the Board of Directors, give them a meaningful role, and allow them a chance to speak at the Annual Meeting?

3. Will you share the marketing studies that showed how PWRTC could make a meaningful dent in the competition in the Winamac and Monticello communities, when those communities already have options to purchase bundles that include telephone, internet, cable television and unlimited long distance?

4. Will you share how the decisions were made that keep the rural MEMBERS of PWRTC on DSL, which is quickly becoming too narrow for home-based businesses and entertainment?

And the biggest question that remains unanswered: Once we have all of the costs on the table, and all of the reasons for proceeding with a new building, please compare that to what the cost would have been to take fiber to those rural members who are going to be stuck with 20th century technology.

Kathi Thompson

Star City