Mentone Talks With Phone Co. Reps About Rental On Water Tower

Two representatives from Indiana Telephone Network (ITN) attended the Mentone Town Council meeting Wednesday to discuss the contract it has to rent space on the water tower for its internet equipment.

Representatives were requested to be at the meeting after the Council in January discussed raising the rate Mentone charges ITN to keep its internet equipment on the town’s water tower. ITN has an agreement with the town to rent space on the water tower for $100 a month.

Melanie Shortill, customer service manager for ITN, said she and employee Jaimie Meek could answer questions, but couldn’t make any decisions on the contract. Meek said ITN’s owner was out of town.

Town attorney Andrew Grossnickle said he sent out a letter inviting representatives from ITN to the meeting. One of the primary concerns that Grossnickle cited was previous letters were sent in regards to the payment aspect of the contract and never got a response. Grossnickle said two letters were sent to an employee he understands is no longer with the company.

Shortill said she has no knowledge of any receipt of any letters from Grossnickle and she apologized. Even if it was addressed to an employee that was no longer at the company, letters should have been opened and processed and the mail is routed through one person.

“I find that very disconcerting to be honest with you,” Shortill said.

Shortill said she made contact with Eric Carlin about a year ago. President Jill Gross said Carlin hasn’t been with the town for about five years, which Shortill was surprised at, saying that’s who she thought she was speaking to. In January 2019, Shortill said she spoke with Gross. She said records on their end were updated with contact information. She did note there were years where the town and ITN didn’t communicate.

Shortill updated the Council with address information and gave Grossnickle her card with her information.

Another issue that was discussed was payments to the town. Grossnickle, at previous council meetings, stated the company didn’t always pay the bill on time.

Meek said she pays the bill for the company. The company did have a turnover when the payment issue was brought to her attention when she first started. She said when it was brought to her attention, she mailed in a payment to bring them back up to speed and has paid it every month since.

Shortill explained the service to the Council.

ITN considered it a low-maintenance/low-capacity service, Shortill said. The internet service is provided through radio frequency and the residents who use it are in an area that they can’t get anything else and are getting 1 megabyte of service.

Shortill said the internet service was no longer being provided free of service and there were about five customers that are getting service from the tower. She didn’t know if they lived within town limits but they had Mentone addresses.

Gross said she didn’t realize the company still had customers that used the tower, noting the two people who she knew that had once used their services no longer do.

Grossnickle said that was one of the questions the Council had, was whether the town needed a presence from ITN on the tower. Shortill said there hasn’t been any new customers since 2012.

Shortill said if the Council were to not continue with the contract, the town should let the five customers know so those customers could attempt to find other possible internet services.

Shortill said the owner has made no mention to her regarding shutting the tower down.

No action was taken and Gross said the Council should mull over the information.

In other business, the Council plans to have a public hearing in regards to possibly raising the rate for the Cumulative Capital Development Fund for town residents.

The meeting is set for 6:30 March 3.

Clerk-Treasurer Nikki Norris previously stated the raising of the rates was suggested by the town’s financial advisor, Baker Tilly. The possible raise would be from 0.0383 to 0.05, which Norris had stated would see an increase of $4 for a house valued at $100,000. However, she said some people might not even notice a difference.

The Council also heard from Councilman Tim Croy about fences and shed “popping up around town that nobody’s getting permits for.”

Croy said he put up a notice on the Mentone News Facebook page about it, letting people know there’s an ordinance book at the library. Croy said the people he’s noticed that have done it are not new residents. He said if a person is making changes to their property, they need to check with the town because just about any change to a property needs a permit.

Croy said people can contact Norris at Town Hall and Norris could possibly reroute them to Croy.