Ocean Shores, North Beach and a large section of East County are amongst the areas of Western Washington highlighted in new, interactive map displaying areas lacking quality internet access.
The public “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool released this week by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) puts on one map, for the first time, data from both public and private sources. It contains data aggregated at the county, census tract, and census block level from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), M-Lab, Ookla and Microsoft.
The map, along with data acquired by the State Department of Commerce speed test, will provide useful data for the PUD as it pursues grants for future projects, including expansion on the State Route 12 corridor in East County.
“Any effort to close the digital divide starts with solid data, and NTIA continues to help policymakers make more informed decisions on expanding broadband access,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “Now, the public can benefit from our platform to see which areas of the country still don’t have broadband at speeds needed to participate in the modern economy.”
The map also puts poverty and lack of broadband access on the same page. The dataset allows you to see where high-poverty communities are located and how that relates to internet usage patterns, as well as to a lack of computers and related equipment. The map also shows usage patterns in tribal communities, which have historically suffered from a lack of internet access. Users can toggle the separate data sets on and off to compare information and search for specific locations, including Tribal lands and minority-serving institutions, to gain a better understanding of where broadband needs are greatest.
The Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners have announced an upcoming vacancy on the PUD Board of Commissioners. The vacancy arises because of the retirement of District 3 Commissioner Russ Skolrood.
Under state law, the two remaining Commissioners have 90 days to appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy until next year’s election. Application instructions can be found on the PUD website at www.ghpud.org. Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on June 30. Those interested can download application instructions from the PUD website at https://www.ghpud.org/employment-opportunities/892-commissioner-vacancy-district-3.
The candidate for the position must be a registered voter living within the PUD's District 3 which includes Hoquiam, Humptulips, Ocean Shores, Copalis, Pacific Beach, Moclips, Taholah, Amanda Park, and Quinault. Grays Harbor PUD is an Equal Opportunity Employer and as such, encourages all qualified individuals in the community to apply.
Candidates should have a strong interest in public service, be willing to commit the time necessary to perform the Commissioner's duties, and be able to meet the challenges of fulfilling the District’s mission to “Serve our community with high value utility services at the lowest practical cost.”
The PUD Commissioners will be addressing significant issues for the customers of the PUD during 2021 and the future, including compliance with the Energy Independence Act, requirements for renewable energy and conservation, rising costs of power and operations, minimal load growth, and future power supply challenges. The Commissioners also approve the utility budget; make policy decisions that affect the District and its customers; set rates and charges for services; approve the Strategic Plan; and appoint the General Manager.
The position of PUD Commissioner pays a monthly salary and per diem compensation for meetings attended on behalf of the District pursuant to RCW 54.12.080. Commissioners are also eligible for group insurance for themselves, their immediate family, and dependents.
Grays Harbor PUD has 165 employees, and serves over 42,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Grays Harbor County and adjacent counties, with telecommunications, energy services, and electrical energy.
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in downtown Aberdeen of a planned power outage impacting two city blocks. The outage will begin at 10:00 PM on Thursday, June 17 and is expected to last until 4:00 AM on Friday, June 18 and will affect 20 customers. The impacted areas will be the two blocks between Wishkah and Heron Streets, and Jefferson and “L” Streets. All impacted customers will receive notification phone calls from the PUD.
The outage is part of a project by the PUD to conduct system maintenance.
In preparation for this outage, customers are advised to take precautions with any electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, and microwaves by unplugging those items. You should leave them disconnected until after the power has been fully restored.
The outage duration of six hours is only an estimate and power could be restored at any time as work is completed. Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period.
After 13 years of service, Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood has announced he will resign from office at the end of June. Skolrood was elected to serve a third term in November, however under state law, his retirement from the Hoquiam School District will prohibit him from drawing his retirement and salary as a PUD commissioner.
“This is a job I literally tried to do for free, but I’ve been told that’s not possible, so with great regret, I have to announce my decision to step down,” said Skolrood. “What makes this a lot tougher is that I now have more time to dedicate to the PUD and its customers. I have loved every minute of my time with the utility and want to thank the voters for their trust and confidence, my fellow commissioners for their counsel and friendship, and the PUD staff for their hard work and service to the community.”
Skolrood was first elected to the board in November of 2008. During that time he served as board president, vice president and secretary, and helped the PUD navigate a number of significant events including the COVID pandemic, the implementation of the Energy Independence and Clean Energy Transformation Acts, the closure and clean-up of the Harbor Paper site, and he says most importantly, the appointment of two new general managers.
“Without a doubt, the appointment of Dave Ward and Schuyler Burkhart were the most significant decisions that I was a part of at the PUD,” said Skolrood. “I think both of those managers were the right fit at the right time for the utility and their leadership and vision has made the PUD stronger, a better place to work and an asset for the Grays Harbor community.”
The remaining board members will begin the process of accepting applications and interviewing interested applicants from Grays Harbor’s District Three, which includes Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, North Beach and North Grays Harbor. The Commission position will then appear on the General Election ballot in November of 2022.
“When you serve on a PUD board, the work is never done. You complete one task and move on and there are some big ones ahead,” said Skolrood. “Working with our elected officials to come out of COVID in a way that minimizes a negative impact on our customers, making sure people know how important our clean energy system is, and renegotiating our Bonneville Power Administration contracts are all things I was looking forward to doing. But I am confident that Commissioner Timmons, Callaghan and whomever takes my seat will work with the utility staff to get the job done.”