Construction of the main line of the Fiber to the Home project is largely complete.
“Our underground crews are doing the drop conduits in a couple of areas,” said utility Telecommunications Division Chief Marcus Dowdy to the April 21 meeting of the Paragould Light, Water and Cable board of commissioners. “We’ve got about 100 houses left, to finish the drop conduits, then all of construction will be complete.”
Dowdy said the construction should finish by the end of this week. He also told the board the fiber splicers moved into the Bogil Road service area on April 20. “So by this time next month the fiber project will be 100 percent complete,” he said, “except for the conversions left.” Dowdy explained Thursday that some 1,500 customers remain on the old coaxial cable system, and are to be converted to the fiber system. “That should be done by October,” he said.
Work crews, Dowdy said, will soon begin removing the infrastructure of the coaxial system from various areas of Paragould. “We’ll have to work around some areas,” he said, “like the hospital and some of the nursing homes – we’ll have to leave them up for a bit longer on the old system.”
The project, which began in March 2018, is scheduled to be totally finished by the end of this year.
Installations over the next two weeks would take place in the Highway 412-Rockingchair Road service area. Thereafter, Dowdy said installations in the Rockingchair-Fairview Road, Rockingchair-Pruett’s Chapel, Bellwood and Honeysuckle service areas should see completion within the next six weeks.
There were a total of 10,401 optical network terminals (ONTs) installed in Paragould as of April 21.
“We figure to have 12,000 ONTs installed by the first of October,” Dowdy said. Chief financial officer Janet Chronister has said earlier that the utility has 14,110 electrical meters installed, so if Dowdy’s estimate proves accurate, 85 percent of PLWC’s electrical customers will also be fiberoptic cable subscribers.
PLWC engineer David Moss said that Diamond Construction had finished work in the area of the Western Greene County Water District lines bought by PLWC that is west of the city limits. “Right now we have the contractor working on the line to Bronze Leaf [subdivision] along the bypass, starting at Rockingchair,” he told the board. The installed line comes to about 4,000 linear feet.
Moss added that disconnections from Western Greene County Water District to the Bronze Leaf subdivision, along with a few minor tasks, will mark the completion of the changeover to PLWC’s system.
He also said work was proceeding on Greene 721 Road on either side of Highway 49.
The city of Paragould had bought the water rights to the area from the Western Greene County Water District as the result of a resolution adopted by the city council at its July 9, 2018 meeting. The purchase of the rights, at $2,000 an acre for 2,284 acres, was to enable upgrade of the water lines in the area to permit development of the area without degradation of the city’s fire rating (currently “2;” the best rating available is “1”).
The fire rating, assigned by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) is directly related to the cost of homeowner’s insurance.
The Western Greene County Water District is required by federal law only to provide safe drinking water to its customers. Any developed property inside the city – including the land previously serviced by the Western Greene County Water District, water rights to which the city bought – must have water for firefighting purposes capable of flowing at 1,000 gallons per minutes for 90 minutes at 20 pounds per square inch.