Belle Aldermen agree to request bids from cable, internet companies wanting to use city water towers

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/13/20

BELLE — Belle Board of Aldermen on July 30 declined to hear a bid from Radio Wire, a company that has an expired antenna contract on one of the city water towers to provide internet service, in …

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Belle Aldermen agree to request bids from cable, internet companies wanting to use city water towers

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BELLE — Belle Board of Aldermen on July 30 declined to hear a bid from Radio Wire, a company that has an expired antenna contract on one of the city water towers to provide internet service, in order to give a second company the chance to bid.

“We would like to renew the contract on the tower next to us,” one of two representatives with the company said.

Mayor Steve Vogt said the contract is expired, although the company is still paying the city the agreed price.

“Another group contacted us about climbing the tower,” Vogt began. “My question is are you looking for exclusive rights or are you willing to partner?”

The two representatives said they may want to offer a bid on the city’s second water tower.

“We would like an exclusive on the tower we are on,” the Radio Wire representative said.

Alderman Jeanette Struemph pointed out that more people are working from home or have kids schooling from home.

“Where my daughter-in-law lives, they have bad service. Many people are very interested in having better internet, but it’s not available yet,” Struemph said.

Struemph’s daughter-in-law lives in Tall Oaks Subdivision in Bland where it is hard to get service.

“We are local guys, your other guys are coming in from maybe St. Louis or out-of-state,” said Ryan Herzing, the second Radio Wire representative began. “We provide service to businesses here. Are these people someone who is not going to pay as much attention to this community because they are not from this community? Probably not.”

The two representatives made the case that their customer service and response time in the community are superior.

Struemph said she is a Radio Wire customer and can attest that their service is good.

“Right now we are rolling out new packages that are cheaper with faster speeds,” Herzing said.

Radio Wire had a contract they were ready to offer on the water tower if the city wanted to see it. Struemph asked Vogt which tower the second company, Cable America, was interested in and they were not for sure.

“I’d like to see the contract and have the others make a bid,” Struemph said.

Alderman Tony Gieck asked the Radio Wire representatives to leave a copy of their contract with the board to review before their Aug. 11 meeting.

Currently, Radio Wire pays the city a fee per each customer who uses their service. Gieck asked the representatives if they wanted to continue that arrangement.

“A flat fee would be easier,” Herzing said. “We could pay three months at a time.”

City officials planned to reach out to Cable America to ask for a bid and which towers that company is interested in. The board will discuss the topic again at the Aug. 11 meeting.

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