LOCAL NEWS

Local News 7-14-2014

HRMC Employees Vote No on Proposed Contract; No Strike as of Now

Union workers at Highlands Regional Medical Center, have ‘overwhelmingly’ rejected the latest proposed contract offered by management. Service Employees International Union 1199 director Joyce Gibson said the decision not to call a strike at this time was made to keep the two sides talking, in an effort to avoid a work stoppage that neither side wants. Union negotiators are expected to return back to the bargaining table Thursday, July 17 with HRMC management, to try and hammer out a final offer. If workers again reject a contract the following day, Gibson said the union would likely issue a 10-day strike notice at that time. This notice is required by law, even though the current contract ends July 19. She said workers would simply work without a contract during the notice.

The primary source of contention is over employee health insurance, in particular coverage for spouses. Under the current contract, the hospital provides coverage to employees and their spouses. However, when negotiations began on a new contract over a month ago, the hospital sought to end coverage for spouses. According to the Floyd Co. Times, HRMC President and CEO Harold “Bud” Warman justified the cuts by saying in a statement released last week that Highlands is trying to deal with recent changes in the health care system that have put a squeeze on small community hospitals. Again the two sides will be back in discussions on Thursday in Paintsville.

Deputies find Marijuana Growing in a Hidden Field in Floyd Co.

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip last week about possible marijuana growing in a field. The tip said the deputies could find the plants growing in a field along Cow Creek Road in Prestonsburg. Upon arrival, investigators said they could imediately smell the plants and eventually found 59 marijuana plants with a street value around $120,000. Sheriff Deputy Landon Hall said it looked like a professional set up because of the layout of the plants, as well as the location.

Deputies went on to say that the plants were near a stream, so that the plants would have a constant source of water. The Floyd Co. Sheriff’s Department is continuing to search for those responsible.

Identity Released of Man Killed in a Knott County Crash

The Kentucky State Police has released the identity of a man killed in a Thursday afternoon crash in Knott Co. The man was identified as, 76 year-old Johnny Childers. Childers died when the SUV he was operating, collided with a Pepsi truck. Police said the fatal crash happened near Carr Creek Lake in Knott County around three at the junction of Highway 15 and Kentucky 160. Highway 15 was shut down for several hours, while emergency crews worked at the scene. KSP in Hazard are continuing to investigate the accident.

Sentencing Delayed for a Former Paintsville Doctor

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar has postponed the sentencing for a former Paintsville Dr., who pled guilty to a drug charge back in March. Dr. Rano BoFill attorney’s requested the sentencing delay, which was originally scheduled for today, July 14, but is now rescheduled for August 13, 2014. A telephone conference will be held on Friday, July 18 to determine if BoFill will be detained prior to the new sentencing date. BoFill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully dispense Oxycodone in a federal case against a former Paintsville Pain Mgmt. business.

Michigan Man Arrested for Heroin Possession in Boyd Co.

A Michigan man was arrested over the weekend in Boyd Co. after Police say he hd heroin in a container of peanut butter. According to the Boyd County Sheriff's Dept., they had been conducting a drug investigation and located Deon Cohen leaving an Ashland Bus Station in a taxi cab when they pulled the cab over to speak with Cohen, who from Detroit, Michigan. When deputies searched the taxi and Cohen, they found a large amount of heroin mixed inside a peanut butter jar. Cohen told deputies he was heading to Portsmouth, Ohio. He was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking heroin and was lodged in the Boyd County Detention Center. No further information has been released at this time.

Kentucky Ends 2014 with $90 Million Shortfall

Kentucky's state government finished the 2014 fiscal year about $90 million short. State officials predicted they would collect $9.6 billion in taxes and fees in the fiscal year that ended June 30. But they collected $9.5 billion instead. The reason was what State Budget Director Jane Driskell called a significant slowdown in income tax collections. State income tax collections grew less than 1 percent from the 2013 fiscal year. Kentucky's road fund was also short about $22.2 million. The state made more money from the gas tax because the tax automatically increased as the wholesale price increased. But it was not enough to offset the fact that people are buying less fuel. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has not said how he plans to make up for the shortfalls.

New Study shows Kentucky as one of the Most Politically Corrupt States

A new study suggests Kentucky is one of the ten most politically corrupt states in the country and taxpayers are suffering from it. Research published through the Public Administration Review suggests political corruption occurs in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Dakota and Alaska at a higher rate than the other states. Federal conviction rates of public officials from 1976 to 2008 were used to determine the level of political corruption in each state.

The study concludes the 10 most corrupt states could have saved $1,308 per person annually if corruption was reduced to an average level, relative to other states. A public official being caught breaking the law has a far-reaching economic impact, said Richard Crowe, a former economics professor at Hazard Community and Technical College. The states with the least amount of political corruption are Oregon, Washington and Minnesota, according to the research. The full study is available by visiting: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/puar.12212/pdf

 

Local News 7-11-2014


One Person Injured after Accident on Rt. 201

According to reports, members of the Flat Gap VFD and W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue, responded to a single vehicle accident Wednesday evening around 8 PM. The accident was located on Ky. Rt. 201 at the Ky. Rt. 1092 intersection and involved a 1990’s model Blue Mustang. The driver was identified as Shannon Combs of Whitehouse. Johnson Co. Deputy David Pridemore said the cause of the accident is still under investigation, but it looks as if Combs lost control of the vehicle, causing her car to first go into a ditch and then onto an embankment were it came to a final rest.

Deputy Pridemore said the female was trapped inside the vehicle and complained of leg pain. Firefighters had to utilize hydraulic rescue tools to remove Combs from the vehicle for EMS personnel to begin treatment. She was transported by Paintsville Fire-EMS ambulance to Highland Elementary where she was then flown to Cabell-Huntington Hospital. No other information has been released at this time and the Deputy David Pridemore with the Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Dept. is continuing to investigate this accident.

Fatal Crash in Knott County

Kentucky State Police say one person was killed Thursday, following a two car crash that happened in Knott Co. Police say the crash happened at the junction of Highway 15 and Kentucky 160 near Carr Creek Lake in Knott Co. around 3 PM. Highway 15 had to shut down for nearly 3 hours, as troopers investigated the accident and emergency crews cleaned up the scene. The name of the deceased or others injured has not released at this time. We hope to bring you further information, later in the day.            

KSP Searching for a Perry Co. Teen, Request Public’s Help

According to the Kentucky State Police, they are actively searching for a missing Perry County teenager. According to reports, 17 year-old Kayla Elliot was last seen on Sunday, July 6 around 3 p.m. along Heather Lane in the Scuddy Community of Perry Co. Troopers say they do not believe she is in any immediate danger. Elliot is described as, 5’6 (five feet six) inches tall, and weighs approximately 180 pounds. She has brown eyes and long brown hair, and was last seen wearing a green shirt and green shorts. If anyone has information that would assist in locating Kayla Elliott, you’re ask to please contact KSP Post 13 in Hazard at 606-435-6069.

Tentative Agreement Reached between Hospital and Union

It looks as if Highlands Regional Medical Center in Floyd Co. and the Union representing 207 employees of the Hospital, have avoided a potential strike, at least for now. Negotiations between HRMC and Service Employees International Union, which represents licensed practical nurses, certified nursing aides, service and maintenance workers, and other support staff, had been in contract talks for the past week and the two sides met into the late hours of Wednesday to try and come to a compromise before the deadline.

There had been several items discussed during these talks, with the main points involving health insurance and a possible freeze in wages. The hospital currently provides health insurance to their employees and their spouses, but to help save money, HRMC was proposing to eliminate spousal coverage, while at the same time doubling premiums, deductibles and total out-of-pocket costs. Both sides were able to hash out a tentative agreement that would prevent a strike by employees that could have possibly stated on Thursday. Now those employees are casting their votes to see whether or not to except the “new deal.” If the employees do not agree on the new items, the two sides will once again go into meetings and try to come up with something else that satisfies each side. HRMC officials says these new contract proposals are essential to the future of HRMC as an independent and locally owned and controlled community health care institution.

Magoffin Co. Couple to Plead Guilty in Corruption Case Involving Morgan Co. Judge-Executive                                                                                                

According to the Lexington Herald, the Magoffin Co. couple charged in connection with a federal corruption case, involving Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley, is expected to plead guilty today. Attorneys for Kenneth Lee Gambill and his wife, Ruth L. Gambill, filed motions earlier this week, saying they have reached a deal with prosecutors, admitting they conspired with Conley in committing fraud, mail fraud and bribery.

According to the federal indictment, the Gambill’s operated a Salyersville construction company,that received contracts in Morgan County to build bridges and install culverts and to clean up debris after a March 2, 2012 tornado that devastated the city of West Liberty. Conley was charged of rigging bids to steer contracts to Gambill’s company and in some cases, judge Conley is said to have opened documents in private and lowered bids from the Gambill’s construction company, to make sure they had the lowest bid. The indictment also says that Conley made sure the company got more pay for tornado cleanup than justified. The conspiracy allegedly lasted from 2009 to August 2013 and the Gambill’s reportedly received $1.1 million in proceeds and Conley would receive kickbacks in return, according to the grand jury charge. Conley has pleaded not guilty. A scheduled change-of-plea hearing for Kenneth and Ruth Gambill is set for July 22. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and the government also seeks a $1 million judgment from the three people charged. Conley is scheduled for trial Aug. 25.

State Auditor Sets Public Hearings on Rural Hospitals

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen has set 10 hearings across the state to discuss the fiscal health of rural hospitals. Edelen's office says 45 percent of Kentucky residents receive health care at small, community hospitals and that the facilities help drive local economies. The hearings start next week in Prestonsburg and continue through Aug. 12 in Campbellsville. They kick off a study by Edelen's office to look at challenges facing small hospitals. The auditor's office is seeking financial records of dozens of rural hospitals and plans to issue a report this fall. Edelen's office says hospital administrators and staff, local elected officials, other health care providers and the public are invited. For more information, visit http://auditor.ky.gov.

Cost Lowered to take GED Test in Kentucky

The cost of taking the GED test in Kentucky is being reduced for a limited time. Effective immediately, eligible Kentucky adults can take each module of the GED test at the reduced cost of $10. The state Council on Post-secondary Education says the offer is being made possible in Kentucky through $20 limited-time vouchers using federal Workforce Investment Act funds. Through the offer, the full GED test is available at the reduced cost of $40, a savings of $80. Officials say the vouchers will be distributed while supplies last.

           

Local News 7-10-2014

 

Sheriff’s Office Searching for I.D. Thieves

According to the Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Dept. they are currently searching for two individuals wanted in connection with using a credit card at multiple locations without the consent of the rightful owner. According to Chief Deputy Kevin Pelphrey, the Sheriff’s office received a complaint about a “stolen” credit card from John Stapleton of Nippa. Pelphrey said that Stapleton advised him that he lost the card while working in the Mayo Plaza. The card was not cancelled and Stpaleton said whoever had the card was making purchases at several local businesses, as well as locations in the Huntington, W.Va. area. Chief Deputy Pelphrey says they do have video footage of the suspects at one of the businesses, but they are continuing to gather information. The suspects are described as a black female, approximately 5’6 to 5’8 tall with a heavyset build and the other suspect is described as a black male approximately 5’7 to 5’9 tall with a medium build. Video footage shows them in a 1990 to 1994 Blue Lincoln Town Car. The Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Office is asking the public that if they have any information regarding these individuals, to please contact the JCSO at 606-789-3411. Callers can remain anonymous.

Paintsville Police Dept. Investigating Meth Lab on Mill Street.

Paintsville Police officers discovered multiple meth labs in the Mill Branch area of Paintsville late last week, while searching for individuals wanted on bench warrants. As officers were searching for the wanted individuals, they witnessed someone tossing items into the front yard of a residence. Upon investigation, Capt. Bill Holbrook found these items to be used in a “one step” meth lab. Upon investigation Capt. Holbrook and Asst. Chief Mike Rowe visited the residence were Holbrook witnessed the meth lab and found multiple bottles around the home. Search Warrants were obtained to further search the home and officers discovered multiple methamphetamine precursors and active active one-step meth labs. The KSP DESI unit was contacted to clean up the methamphetamine. Officers were not able to locate the individuals living at the location upon first discovery, but would be able to track down those responsible on Sunday, July 6. Arrested and charged with possession of meth precursors and manufacturing meth was 31 year-old Christopher Micheal Tackett and 31 year-old Jennifer Spence. They were lodged in the Big Sandy regional Detention center. Paintsville Police Dept. are continuing to investigate this incident.

Tentative Agreement Reached between Hospital and Union

It looks as if Highlands Regional Medical Center in Floyd Co. and the Union representing 207 employees of the Hospital, have avoided a potential strike, at least for now. Negotiations between HRMC and Service Employees International Union, which represents licensed practical nurses, certified nursing aides, service and maintenance workers, and other support staff, had been in contract talks for the past week and the two sides met into the late hours of Wednesday to try and come to a compromise before the deadline.

There had been several items discussed during these talks, with the main points involving health insurance and a possible freeze in wages. The hospital currently provides health insurance to their employees and their spouses, but to help save money, HRMC was proposing to eliminate spousal coverage, while at the same time doubling premiums, deductibles and total out-of-pocket costs. Both sides were able to hash out a tentative agreement that would prevent a strike by employees that could have possibly stated on Thursday. Now those employees are casting their votes to see whether or not to except the “new deal.” If the employees do not agree on the new items, the two sides will once again go into meetings and try to come up with something else that satisfies each side. HRMC officials says these new contract proposals are essential to the future of HRMC as an independent and locally owned and controlled community health care institution.

Sentencing Delayed for a Former Paintsville Doctor

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar has postponed the sentencing for a former Paintsville Dr., who pled guilty to a drug charge back in March. Dr. Rano BoFill attorney’s requested the sentencing delay, which was originally scheduled for July 14, but is now rescheduled for August 13, 2014. A telephone conference will be held on July 18 to determine if BoFill will be detained prior to the new sentencing date. BoFill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully dispense Oxycodone in a federal case against a former Paintsville Pain Mgmt. business.

           

Doctors Indicted for Illegally Prescribing Pain Medicine

Dr’s. James Dustin Chaney and Andrew Krasuski were indicted last month on charges they illegally prescribing controlled substances. The two are accused of working out of a plain clinic, Clarion Health and Wellness, in Hazard. Both have a trial date set for August 12th. According to a Lexington Herald Leader report, the state medical licensure board issued an emergency suspension order for Chaney's license on June 30th.

State Auditor Sets Public Hearings on Rural Hospitals

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen has set 10 hearings across the state to discuss the fiscal health of rural hospitals. Edelen's office says 45 percent of Kentucky residents receive health care at small, community hospitals and that the facilities help drive local economies. The hearings start next week in Prestonsburg and continue through Aug. 12 in Campbellsville. They kick off a study by Edelen's office to look at challenges facing small hospitals. The auditor's office is seeking financial records of dozens of rural hospitals and plans to issue a report this fall. Edelen's office says hospital administrators and staff, local elected officials, other health care providers and the public are invited. For more information, visit http://auditor.ky.gov.

Water + Rest + Shade = Survival in Extreme Heat

Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die. Heat illnesses and deaths are preventable. The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken such as drinking water frequently and resting in the shade or air conditioning. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death. Heat is a silent killer, unlike such hazards as damaging winds or flooding, many people often don't realize they are in trouble until they need medical assistance.

Here’s some tips to help with working outside in the heat and humidity.

* Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
* Rest in the shade to cool down.
* Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
* Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
* Keep an eye on fellow workers.

Industries most affected by heat-related illness are: construction; trade, transportation and utilities; agriculture; building, grounds maintenance; landscaping services; and support activities for oil and gas operations. Remember "Water, Rest, Shade."

 

Local News 7-9-2014


Gas Leak Causes Evacuations for a Short Time in Louisa

Emergency crews in Louisa were busy Tuesday after city workers accidentally cause a gas leak. Reports indicate the leak happened on Tuesday morning when the workers ruptured a gas line on Franklin Street. The evacuations took place at the following locations:

West Franklin Street from South Lock Avenue to South Water Street
West Powhaten Street to South Water Street
South Lock Avenue from Madison Street to West Powhaten Street
South Main Cross Street from Madison Street to West Powhaten Street
South Water Street from Madison Street to West Powhaten Street

The leak was stopped by Columbia Gas workers, who made repairs to the line in the early afternoon. No injuries were reported.

Accident Leads to DUI Arrest in Floyd Co.

A two-car accident on U.S. 23 near the Tiger Mart in Floyd Co. on Monday, sent two people to the Hospital and one in handcuffs. According to the Floyd Co. Times, Police responded to a call of an accident involving a Toyota Tacoma pickup and a Chevrolet Cobalt. Officials say the Tacoma pulled out of a side road and onto U.S. 23 in the southbound lane, causing the collision. One occupant from each vehicle was sent to the hospital for their injuries, but none of these injuries were thought to be severe. Upon investigation, Prestonsburg Police officers decided to give the driver of the Tacoma a field sobriety test, then arresting the unidentified man on suspicion of driving under the influence. Officer John Howard with the Prestonsburg Police is continuing to investigate this accident.

Morehead Man Airlifted from Accident Scene

According to a news release from the KSP in Morehead, on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 at 5:59 a.m. Kentucky State Police Post 8 Morehead responded to a single vehicle injury accident at the 12 mile marker on US 60 East in Morehead. Barry P. Hinton, age 33, of Morehead was traveling west in a 2000 Chevy Impala when he dropped off the right shoulder struck a concrete culvert and a tree causing the vehicle to overturn on the right shoulder. Barry P. Hinton was airlifted from the scene to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington. The accident remains under investigation by Trooper Keith Howard.  

Names Released in Fatal Crash in Carter County

A car crash in Carter Co. Monday night, claimed the life of a 70-year-old man. The accident happened Monday night on Grahn Road near Olive Hill. According to Carter County Coroner, George Sparks, the victim was Richard Mullins. Mullins was pronounced dead at the scene around 9:30 p.m. The Carter County Sheriff's Department is continuing to investigate the accident.

KSP Continuing to Investigate a Shooting in Pike Co.

The KSP in Pikeville are continuing to investigate a shooting that took place Monday July 7. Troopers received a call of a shooting complaint in the Stopover community of Pike County around 4 am Monday morning. Trooper Jason McClellan responded to the area and located four individuals with gunshot wounds, three men and one woman. They are not calling anyone victims or suspects just yet as the investigation continues. All four individuals were airlifted to Pikeville Medical Center for their injuries. Kentucky State Police Post 9 Detectives are still conducting their investigations. Names of the parties involved are not being released at this time due to ongoing investigation.

Highlands Regional and Union Officials Approach Critical Deadline in Contract Negotiations

Time is almost up in reaching a new contract between Highlands Regional Medical Center and a union, representing 207 of its employees. The hospital and Service Employees International Union, which represents licensed practical nurses, certified nursing aides, service and maintenance workers, and other support staff, have been trying to negotiate a new contract for over a month, but today is the deadline in reaching a new deal, or the union will issue a 10-day strike notice. Several items have been discussed between the two sides, but indications suggest they are far apart of coming to an agreement. Representatives for the union say they are fighting to protect workers from a hospital proposal she said would result in an “astronomical cost” for health insurance, while also freezing wages.

The hospital currently provides health insurance to their employees and their spouses, but HRMC is proposing to eliminate spouse coverage, while at the same time doubling premiums, deductibles and total out-of-pocket costs. Employees of the Hospital say they want to work, but are prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves from the hospital’s demands. Union reps say the hospital’s proposed cuts to employee benefits are too severe, but the hospital counters that it must reduce costs to remain competitive and cope with financial stress. The two sides are scheduled to resume talks today, but if no deal is reached by the end of today, the union could issue a strike notice as early as Thursday.         

Three Federal Case Appeals Cost Tax Payers

The process to appeal three federal cases by the state is costing tax payers a hefty price. A spokesperson for the Governor's office says a state contract currently pays attorneys $125 an hour. Of the three cases being appealed involve two gay-marriage rulings. Just last week, a federal judge ruled a state-wide ban is unconstitutional. The same judge ruled earlier this year, the Commonwealth must recognize same sex marriages from other states. Already Kentucky has dished out 68,000 dollars to pay attorney's working on the state's appeal.

Local News 7-8-2014

KSP Investigating a Monday Morning Shooting in Pike Co.

According to the KSP in Pikeville, on Monday July 7, 2014 Post 9, Pikeville received a call of a shooting complaint in the Stopover community of Pike County around 4 am Monday morning. Trooper Jason McClellan responded to the area and located four individuals with gunshot wounds, three men and one woman. They are not calling anyone victims or suspects just yet as the investigation continues. All four individuals were airlifted to Pikeville Medical Center for their injuries. Kentucky State Police Post 9 Detectives are still conducting their investigations. Names of the parties involved are not being released at this time due to ongoing investigation.

Police Arrest Four in Lawrence County following Drug Raid

According to the Louisa Police Department, four people have been arrested and are facing charges after a drug raid in Lawrence County. Officers report those individuals arrested were: Lori Hall, 41, Lacy Hall, Jr., 56, and Lacy James Hall, 25, all of Louisa, are charged with trafficking a controlled substance after a search warrant was executed late last week. Another man, Delbert Chaney, 40, of Louisa, was also arrested at the scene and has been charged with tampering with physical evidence. All four were taken to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.

Ashland Man Arrested in Connection to a Death Investigation

Ashland Police have arrested the man wanted in connection to the death of Russell Chandler, whose body was found in an Ashland Hotel room. Joe Bentley, 52, was arrested at a gas station after an anonymous call came into the station on Sunday. Chandler was found dead in his room at the Bluegrass Inn in Ashland, June 21, were he was a resident. Bentley is being charged with first-degree manslaughter. Police are continuing to investigate this incident.

Missing Perry County Man Found Dead In Overturned Vehicle

The discovery of a body in the Vicco community of Perry County last Saturday has ended the search for a missing Perry County man. According to the Kentucky State Police in Hazard, troopers responded to Georges Branch Road after Perry County Sheriff's deputies found a body in a vehicle that was resting over an embankment. Police say the body was that of Coy David Banks, 62, Vicco. Banks had been reported missing by his wife on Wednesday, July 2, three days before the vehicle was found.

Police say it appears that Banks was operating a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier eastbound on a mining road off of Georges Branch when he lost control of the vehicle and traveled over an embankment where the car overturned before coming to rest. Police say Banks was partially ejected from the vehicle and did not appear to be wearing a seat belt. No foul play is suspected and toxicology results are pending.

Eastern Kentucky Receives $1 Million Grant

A national community service organization is investing $1 million in eastern Kentucky to help the region recover from the downturn in the coal industry. The money from the Corporation for National and Community Service will hire 52 full-time workers to recruit volunteers for 16 nonprofit groups on issues ranging from education and poverty. It is one of the first initiatives of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, an initiative founded by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers to help eastern Kentucky. Beshear and Rogers also announced Monday $312,000 in technical assistance from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 7,000 direct coal mining jobs since Jan. 1, 2012.

High-Speed Broadband: The Public-Private Debate

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky is one of 31 states with no barriers to the creation of municipally-run or nonprofit broadband networks. Bardstown, Murray and Frankfort are among communities in the state that have some form of publicly owned Internet service. But others face big hurdles. Christopher Mitchell directs the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He said consumer choice is at the heart of community broadband networks. "Fundamentally, there's a lack of competition," said Mitchell. "The reason that cities step into this space is because we don't believe the private sector is capable of resolving that lack of competition on its own."

Some cities and local governments have had difficulty keeping the community Internet provider model alive. Libertarians and conservatives often say government should not be involved providing Internet service. Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said Pew Research statistics show 1 in 4 Americans do not want broadband access at home. "A non-trivial portion of Americans," said Radia, "especially in some of the cities where we see these networks, don't value broadband. I'm troubled by the idea of the government providing it." Mitchell argued that community broadband networks are important because they go up against a handful of companies with a stranglehold on the business. He said he would have a difficult time competing with Comcast to provide Internet access in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn.

"I'd need to raise about $200 million probably to build a network that would compete with them," Mitchell said. "As soon as I did that, Comcast would cut its rates significantly. And people, being very price-sensitive, would decide not to go with my new, faster, better service." He added that community networks are often demonized by big cable and telephone companies for 'failing' when they don't create profits in the first 3 years. But few would demand that local governments turn a profit on roads they manage within 3 years of building them.