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Internet Discounts Expected To End In April

Funding that has provided internet discounts to thousands of Jamestown residents is expected to run out by April.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the Affordable Connectivity Program stopped accepting new applications and enrollments Feb. 8. Unless additional funding from Congress is allocated, full benefits from the pandemic-born program will likely end in the next two months.

Households that were approved and enrolled with an internet service provider by Feb. 7 will receive the discount until money is depleted, the FCC said.

Stephen Neilans, city communications coordinator, announced in December that more than 6,600 households were signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which has provided discounts up to $30 per month toward broadband service.

“As long as the program’s going, we’re going to keep promoting it and giving people the opportunity to save $30 off a month,” Neilans told Jamestown City Council members at the end of the year.

During a recent City Council work session, Mayor Kim Ecklund said funding that went toward promoting the internet access program ended Feb. 6. The federal government, Ecklund said, has “basically pulled the rug out from underneath us with the grant.”

Though Neilans was contracted to stay on through the end of 2024, his services will end March 1, the mayor announced.

In other City Council news:

— Comptroller Ericka Thomas provided a brief update on the city’s $28 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds. She indicated that the city has about $1.4 million in ARPA funds remaining.

While updating the council on where funds have been spent to date, Thomas noted a number of accounting errors that needed to be checked.

She also said there’s about $261,000 that had been approved for a deputy comptroller that could be “clawed back” because the person in that position just recently resigned.

What’s more, Thomas said there’s about $312,000 in interest that has been earned from the APRA allocation. It’s not yet clear how the city can spend the interest, she said.

— the Public Safety Committee approved a resolution allowing Courtney Schauman, Corey Ellis, Jesus Garcia and Luke Ames to attend a state fire investigation course in Montour Falls, New York, this March.

See INTERNET, Page A6

Matt Coon, deputy fire chief, said completion of the training will afford the city four new fire investigators. He noted that past training required participation in two courses as well as 80 hours of field work.

“This is going to shrink that timeline down where they’re going to do the training all at once,” Coon said. “There will still be some field investigation work to do, but it’s my goal that it will shorten their timeline for training by a year.”

— Ecklund said meetings that will include department heads will be held shortly regarding the April 8 total solar eclipse.

Because Chautauqua County is in the “path of totality,” the region is expected to see a flood of visitors leading up to the eclipse. The county announced at least one event, at the Jamestown airport, to mark the occasion.

No city-sponsored event has yet to be announced.

— Councilman Randy Daversa, R-At-Large, said there was a complaint over people parking their cars on Hoyt Alley, which connects West Sixth to West Eighth streets. He noted that the alley, in addition to being steep, is extremely narrow to navigate around parked vehicles.

“That alley is really tough to deal with, even when there’s no cars there,” Daversa said. “Some people are parking there to avoid alternate parking.”

Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At-Large, encouraged residents to call the police department the next time there’s an issue.

“A couple hundred dollar tow bill — I bet you they don’t do it again,” he said.

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