Council approves wireless internet provider, swears in new members

TUSAYAN, Ariz. — After months of decision-making and requests for qualifications, high-speed internet will finally be coming to the town of Tusayan.

At a regular council meeting Dec. 12, the Town Council selected an internet provider based in San Diego, California, to provide high speed internet throughout the town. Part of the contract with the provider allows the town to subsidize up to $29.99 for internet service for up to 175 residents.

Broadband consultant Bill Bolin was on hand to discuss the two proposals, which were left nameless to ensure fairness, and what each company could offer the town. Both companies submitted proposals for three years of service and promised to offer at least 10 MB of internet broadband service, with additional packages available up to 25 MB. Additionally, residents would not have to lease equipment or pay installation fees — both companies agreed to provide the equipment and install fees.

The Town of Tusayan would subsidize the 10 MB basic connection package — if residents prefer, they can pay an additional fee for more bandwidth.

Mayor Craig Sanderson said the subsidized internet, while providing benefits to the town’s transient working population, also has benefits for local employers.

“From an employer’s prospective, we found that internet service is critical to recruit employees because they have expectations (of internet),” so it helps the businesses,” he said. “It was important to me to not have contracts or high equipment costs. Employees who may be here for only a few months should have the same ability to get on the internet.”

Because housing in Tusayan is largely provided by employers in multi-family units, it will ultimately be up to them to decide whether to allow the equipment to be installed on their units. Some employers, such as the Best Western Squire Inn, already provide internet service to employees. Former council member David Chavez says the hotel plans to continue providing its own internet service to employees.

New council members sworn in

First-time council members Brady Harris and Robb Baldosky were sworn in by Town Clerk Bruce Northern, along with Mayor Craig Sanderson, who was re-elected. Harris won the seat formerly occupied by John Schoppmann, who chose to run for mayor, in the August primary election. Baldosky defeated sitting council member David Chavez in a November run-off.

Council declines to appoint Vail to P & Z

After an emotional conversation at the front of the council chamber, the Town Council declined to appoint resident Clarinda Vail to the town’s Planning and Zoning committee. Sanderson thanked Vail for her help with the committee and said he hoped she would continue to contribute valuable assistance to the advisory committee, but he had reservations about events leading up to the recent election and offered it as the reason he would not vote to approve her appointment.

Sanderson said he felt recent information shared by the Grand Canyon Watchdog, an internet publication reporting on town business, had caused problems with the town’s home rule vote, among other things.

Vail, who pointed out that she submitted her application months before fallout from the recording incident and watchdog mailer were distributed, said she felt his disapproval was entirely political, and that she was not personally responsible for the Grand Canyon Watchdog, nor should her opinions on certain issues prevent her from serving in a purely advisory role to the council. Planning and Zoning Chairman Rob Gossard and Commissioner ClayAnn Cook both supported Vail’s nomination to the board.

New council members Harris and Baldosky voted in favor of appointing Vail, while Sanderson and Vice Mayor Becky Wirth voted against. With council member Al Montoya absent, the tie vote effectively killed the motion.

Tusayan to get new deputy

Coconino County Sheriff Lieutenant Brian Tozer informed the council that the town would be getting its own full-time deputy by the first of the year. Tozer said he will be relocating to Tusayan as soon as the housing contract is signed at the airport and will be working full-time after the first of the year to get to know the town and its businesses and community members.

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