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Mainstream, Foundation contract detailed

A bullet-point handout concerning the contract between Mainstream Fiber Networks and the Harrison County Community Foundation Real Estate Supporting Organization (RESO) was presented to the Harrison County Council Monday night.
At the council’s last meeting, it approved $2 million from its community fund interest earnings to join the venture between the Foundation ($3 million investment) and Mainstream ($10 million).
Steve Gilliland, president and CEO of the Harrison County Community Foundation, said the construction contract has not yet been completed.
Mainstream and the Foundation’s RESO are working together to provide approximately 115 miles of dark fiber-optic cable to serve as the initial backbone for fiber optic communications. The ‘loop,’ as it’s described in the contract, should provide access to approximately 8,900 homes and businesses by June 30, 2019.
Mainstream will invest $10 million to provide high-speed fiber service for all homes and businesses that indicate the intent to pay for a connection, according to the handout, and are located within one mile of the path of the loop.
The service will be provided based upon completion of sections of the loop and demonstrated demand of residents and businesses along adjoining roadways.
The Foundation hired former County Commissioner George Ethridge as project manager. Ethridge was the cheaper option of two applicants. As commissioner, Ethridge worked with Mainstream on phase 1 of the fiber network project, which connected the government buildings in Corydon. He also has more than 27 years experience as a field engineer and a PBX technician, project manager and telecommunications consultant.
Mainstream plans to open a sales office in Corydon when the loop is 25-percent complete.
Areas with 62 percent or more of the customers signing up for service can expect connection first. Areas with 50 percent or more will be installed next.
‘Most interested customers within the loop service area should be connected by the end of 2019,’ the handout reads.
The RESO will not incur any costs associated with the operation or maintenance of the loop, that will all be on Mainstream, which will lease the loop for one dollar per year for an initial term of 25 years with three five-year extensions available.
The contract stipulates Mainstream ‘must invite’ qualified and competent local vendors to bid on materials, supplies or installation of the project.
A $5 per month infrastructure recovery fee from each customer will go toward paying back the Foundation and county government.
The minimum installation fee is $450, although some customers may require additional installation costs.
Gilliland said he’s heard the most complaints about the $450 installation fee, which can be paid over a 12-month period (poverty level folks will have 24 months to pay the install fee and will receive an 80-percent discount on normal rates).
‘Four-fifty is not that unreasonable,’ he said, especially when considering fiber availability increases the value of the home by 10 to 15 percent.
Terms of service for customers will be three to five years for residential and up to seven for business or commercial clients. Mainstream offers one free month of service for each year of contracted service.
Gilliland encouraged anyone interested to visit and sign up for service.
Councilman Kyle Nix said the biggest question he gets about the project is what the finalized route will look like and he asked for updates along the way from Mainstream officials.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.