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Hotel and broadband upgrades may be in Morgan’s future

Article Date: 
23 August, 2013 (All day)

LaNeece Davenport from the Wasatch Front Regional Council attended this week’s Morgan County Council of Governments (COG) meeting to discuss Morgan County’s participation in a regional broadband study.
Davenport’s organization was approached by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development to assess the broadband needs of the R-5 region which includes Morgan.
The state wants to get an understanding of exactly what local issues are.  Davenport’s office has hired two people to help develop a needs assessment.  They would also like to create a broadband planning council for the R-5 region. This council would consist of 25 to 30 members all from different entities within the region.  There will be several entities represented to give the council a broad view of what the needs are.  Representatives will come from businesses; libraries; public education; for profit and non-profit organizations; public safety; transportation; and health, etc.  
The council will build a strategic plan that analyzes strengths, weaknesses and threats.  “Tooele, Morgan and other rural areas within the region have a serious bandwidth problem.  In this day and age this becomes more of a need than a want or desire,” Davenport said. Health care centers and emergency facilities rely on a dependable connections to run efficiently.  There are also many residents who rely on a quick internet speed to work from home. 
The first meeting will be Sept. 12 and Davenport asked members of the group to participate. “We have a few elected officials from other areas, but we would really like Morgan to be represented,” requested Davenport.
So far Morgan County participants include Charlie Ewert, Hannah Freeize, James Arnell and Spencer Gibbons.
“Once we find the needs, there is a ton of federal money right now for broadband projects,” assured Davenport.  She continued saying that she is quite sure Morgan County could qualify for some of these funds.
Also on the agenda was a short discussion about the possibility of a hotel coming to Morgan.  Developer Scott Sommerville has been in talks with the city’s hotel developer and there is now a partnership in place on land for the proposed facility.  The county was excited to hear that there was movement on this project.
The land that is in discussion for the project is the land just east of 7-11.  In discussing how done this deal really is, Morgan County Councilman Ned Mecham asked Morgan City Mayor Jim Egbert, “If you were a gambling man, would you say there is a 50/50 chance at this point?”  Mayor Egbert responded saying, “I am a lot more positive now than I was three years ago.”  
The flag they are currently looking at is the Marriott Fairfield Inn.  The hotel project will likely include a swimming pool to draw more people in.  The group has talked to two finance companies, including one local entity. Egbert said the developer has been really great to work with and concluded saying, “It looks good for the only county in the state without a hotel.”