Former warden joins EORN board.
Bob Sweet, who was a big supporter of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network's broadband initiative, is a veteran member of Renfrew County council.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
As the past warden of Renfrew County, Bob Sweet was no longer as closely linked to the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus and its role in seeing successful completion of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network.
But not any more.
Sweet was asked in January by EOWC chairman Mel Campbell and EORN chairman Dave Burton to join EORN’s board of directors, and now he’s the newest member.
“I asked to allow my name to stand because I was a past EOWC chair and past warden who was very much involved with the original plan,” said Sweet.
“I’ve been on the ground floor with this particular project, and it’s important to be a part of this group because we’re now going into the last mile. This will take (increased broadband) into all parts of Renfrew County “
As a director, Sweet said, “I just want to make sure we’re addressing all the issues, although I’m not suggesting for a moment that they haven’t been or they won’t.”
Arnprior Reeve Walter Stack said Sweet’s a great selection for the position.
“He has worked as warden and chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, and with the provincial fiscal review committee,” said Stack.
“His experience and knowledge makes him an absolutely perfect candidate.”
By year’s end, the EORN program will bring increased broadband access to residents across eastern Ontario with the help of 160 new access points.
As Sweet points out, the program was intended to get to areas that were uneconomical to reach.
EORN’S 5,500-km. network of new and existing fibre-optics cables will bring or enhance broadband Internet for residents across eastern Ontario. With 160 new access points, EORN will bring Renfrew County and others parts of eastern Ontario forward as equal players in the world of information-dissemination capacity, says Sweet.
Sweet was among those who pushed in 2005 for an Internet gap analysis that eventually led to the $170-million EORN project, as contributors were EOWC with about $10 million, the federal and provincial government with $55 million each, and the private sector with the balance.
The gap analysis clearly showed that Renfrew County and other eastern Ontario counties were clearly disadvantaged, when compared to the likes of Ottawa, Toronto and other major centres in North America.
Jan. 30 county council supported Sweet’s appointment as the county’s representative, following the recent resignation of EORN board treasurer John Fenik of Perth.
The appointment was confirmed through a recommendation of the county’s striking committee and unanimously passed by county council.
The board will have nine members, including members yet to selected for separated municipalities (such as Brockville, Cornwall and Belleville) and First Nation communities.
The board’s other members are chair Burton, who’s a former warden for Haliburton County, as well as J. Murray Jones of Peterborough County, former Frontenac County warden Gary Davison, public members Warren Arsenault and David Koa, and Tweed Mayor Joanne Albert.
The board’s duties will include overseeing the awarding of contracts to service providers. Some have been awarded, and others remain to be awarded.
“This will be a tremendous boost not only to our residents, but more importantly it will greatly assist in the economic development of our region,” said Sweet.
EORN is scheduled to result in new or enhanced Internet service for nearly 31,000 homes and businesses across Renfrew County by the autumn of 2013. EORN was established as a non-profit organization to manage the awarding of contracts for the broadband network.
Additional challenges of the board, says Sweet, will include finding connectivity for those households still not linked to the network.
Meanwhile, Sweet says the project is ahead of schedule and under budget.