Roane County Commission Watchdog Project

The Roane County Commission (RCC) is attempting a hostile takeover of the Roane County Solid Waste Authority.  They refuse to disclose their plans, but analysis of their actions and available information suggests this will end recycling and result in RCC pillaging RCSWA resources (new Ram 2500, $2k/mo from tipping fees, grant funds, assets, etc)., will maintain online opposition to this hostile takeover.  In discussion on this, several people have remarked about other problems created by RCC, but that little can be done about it, this watchdog website project will attempt to fulfill that purpose.

Project Outline:

  • News and articles:  Joomla or Wordpress, multi-user community news/blog site.  Split into three parts, "news", "cases", "projects" (and other articles).
    • "News" section will cover RCC meetings, actions, problems, failures, negligence, public concerns, etc.
    • "Cases" section will cover severe problems, like the RCSWA hostile takeover, ruined broadband projects, etc.
    • "Projects" section will cover ideas for cooperative public efforts to solve problems that RCC created, ignored, failed to resolve, etc.
    • These articles will be open to comments.
  • Community Forum:  Joomla or Wordpress extension.  Discussion forum focused on RCC, solving problems in RC, community organizing, site management, and general discussion.
  • Newsletter:  Auto generated summary of articles and forum posts will be sent to subscribers at desired intervals (daily, weekly).
  • Management:  Roane residents will be allowed to register, volunteer for roles, and most decisions will be made by consensus on the forums.  Chris Dalzell owns this site, will serve as site admin, will keep this site focused on RCC and solving county problems, but otherwise its flexible.  It is hoped a dozen or more people will join to regularly contribute in vairous ways as "site staff", including authors, editors, moderators, etc.
  • Non-partisan:  Site will be moderated, primarily to defuse disputes based in political polarization, but also to remove disruptive projections of national politics, or even state politics which don't directly relate to what's going on in Roane.  No direct campaigning, but political candidates will be encouraged to participate (e.g. don't say "vote for me", do say "this is how I would solve some problem").
  • Funding:  Site will accept donations, use static affiliate links, and non intrusive ads from local companies not affiliated with RCC, but will not use conventional online advertising (e.g. no Google ads).  Projects will use crowd funding or grants (e.g. PACF).
  • Promotion:  Volunteers spreading this by word of mouth and on social media, ads in Roane Reporter, fliers posted around the county.
  • Social Media:  Site will not have a direct social media presence, instead this will rely upon volunteers to post links to articles on their own Facebook, Twitter, etc accounts, and share it with others.  Site will not use external single-sign-on (e.g. no login via Facebook).
  • No Tracking:  Site will use conventional traffic metrics (e.g. unique page views), but no Google analytics, no Facebook widgets, no marketing trackers, etc.  Cookies will be optional, for user accounts and page features, but not used for spying on users.
  • Dialup Compatible:  Entire site will work at 26.4kbps (3.2KB/s), this will limit the features but make it accessible to everyone, and perform extremely well for people with decent internet.  Will also be mostly mobile compatible.

Background:  This domain was registered for a community hub website for the Roane County Broadband Project, but that project was ruined by RCC and RC EDA.  It would have provided county-wide gigabit fiber service (1G-EPON FTTP), initially along major roads, with wifi mesh net temporarily covering more remote residents until fiber was built out.  Funding was nearly lined up, $12 mllion in USDA RUS grants over 4 years, $10 million WV EDA revolving bank loan backing, around $2.55 million estimated for service credit to "volunteers", that's a total of $24.55 million to get started, and then steadily build out as fast as reinvesting profits allowed.  But RCC and EDA scrapped the plan.  Now our only prospects for rural broadband is Spacex Starlink service, starting in late 2020.  This county wide fiber network we had planned to build would have been so much better, upgradeable to 10 gigabit service (10G-EPON FTTP), 10Gbps (later 100Gbps) point to point active fiber channels, lower cost to subscrbers, small local data center, etc.  The potential benefits squandered and magnitude of loss to Roane County is difficult to describe.

It would have been transformative, and that's the problem, it was things people didn't understand, didn't value, and didn't want the changes it would have brought.  Our local economy was based extractive industries and manufacturing, which are mostly dead now.  The people in power don't want something different, they want the old industries back, but that isn't coming back.  So in rejecting a viable future as elected representatives, they have left this county's residents to suffer, without decent prospects for a better future, only a continued downward spiral.  Now the Roane County Solid Waste Authority is being consumed by this too, could be RCC wants the resources, could be good ol' boy consolidation of power, could be a simple negligent power grab, but the end result will be the same, near certain end to recycling.

How many other public institutions are suffering something similar, or being neglected?  Lets find out, inform the public, and work to bring about change.