Courthouse ballot, cell service on council agenda

Published 10:52 am Friday, September 8, 2017

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson is scheduled to appear before Franklin’s City Council during its regular scheduled meeting on Monday evening, and present them with draft wording of the ballot question to be put to voters on Nov. 7 concerning the potential relocation of the Southampton County Courthouse.

According to a memorandum from City Manager R. Randy Martin to the council members, Johnson is in the process of making this presentation to all the town and city councils in Southampton. A series of public meetings have also been scheduled throughout the county preceding the election, intended to increase public awareness of the project and the ballot question. The public meeting for Franklin will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center, located at 100 N. College Drive.

Additional business scheduled for Monday’s city council meeting is the formal appropriation of funds pertaining to actions the council took last month. These actions include the city’s agreeing to participate in the economic development program ReInvent Hampton Roads, which carries a cost of $5,000, and the city’s acceptance of a roughly $1.7 million federal grant to improve its airport, which requires a local contribution of $36,280.

The final item on the agenda for the evening is an update by Martin on a meeting he and Mayor Frank Rabil recently had with representatives of Verizon Wireless concerning lack of service in and around Franklin.

According to Martin’s memorandum to council, Verizon has tested the service levels throughout the city and found several problem spots, including the area around Southampton Memorial Hospital and the Village at Woods Edge assisted living facility. Verizon has offered to deploy temporary solutions in this area due to the healthcare implications and the concentration of senior citizens.

The company also informed Martin that a new cell tower located along the Highway 58 corridor east of Franklin, referred to as the Beale’s Corner location, was completed and activated earlier this year. Additional new towers that have been constructed and are expected to go active in October include one on Highway 58 west of Franklin toward Courtland, referred to as the Franklin FM location; one in Isle of Wight County east of Franklin known as the Franklin Airport location; and one in Southampton County north of Courtland and northwest of Franklin, known as the Sebrell location.

A fifth tower located in Sedley is expected to go active in November and a sixth is being installed on an existing tower in Franklin near Sachs Avenue is expected to go active in December.