By By BETTY LAWRENCE and JANIE SOUTHARD
There's a new cable guy in town.
Coldwater and St. Henry residents soon will be able to choose an alternative to Adelphia Cable for their cable service.
Ultra high-speed optics is on its way to residents and businesses to provide high-definition cable television, phone service and Internet service from Hometown Cable Inc., a new company based in New Knoxville.
Scott Prueter, president of Hometown Cable, told council members at both village council meetings Monday night his company wants to "provide a better alternative for state of the art fiber optic telecommunication services at competitive rates."
Prueter said he has been working with St. Henry Village Administrator Don Hess and Coldwater Village Manager/Engineer Eric Thomas for a couple of years to put together details of the undertaking. "The infrastructure is laid out, and we're looking at an office in Coldwater," Prueter said.
The business owners expect to break ground on their new facility within a few months and offer complete services in six months.
The multi-million dollar project with investors in the Auglaize/Mercer/Shelby counties area will connect residences to the main cable as they are connected now, by aerial or underground.
"Ala carte service is available, of course, but the rates will be better the more services taken," Prueter said, adding the price structure will be competitive, but is not set as yet.
"I guess you're ready to lock horns with Adelphia," St. Henry council member Robert Rengers said during the St. Henry meeting.
Prueter just smiled.
Residents throughout the area have complained for years about the high cable rates in most of Mercer County, where Adelphia currently is the only cable provider.
Adelphia recently asked both villages to agree to 10-year franchise agreements, which basically say the company can provide services in those villages. The agreement also includes a franchise fee that is paid back to the village based on gross revenue.
Neither St. Henry nor Coldwater has taken any action on the franchise agreement.
The new company will likely ask for the same type of agreement, Thomas said at the Coldwater meeting.
Hess pointed out that Hometown, which will employ eight people, also will have the capability to provide service to the village in the area of meter reading for water and electric.
Village officials in both communities seemed receptive to the new company.
"Basically, it gives us an alternative, plus phone service," Thomas said.
Coldwater councilor Rob Fisher said "it is nice to see some competition."
Coldwater resident Beverly Bettinger added, "Adelphia has had too much of a monopoly."
In St. Henry, council members agreed they'd be pleased for Hometown to begin service immediately.
"You're a welcome sight," said St. Henry Mayor LaVern Schulze.