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Manager hired for internet network



By Craig Coleman

ccoleman at eaglenewspapers.com

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- A telecommunications consultant from Salem has been hired as manager of the Monmouth-Independence Network (MINET), the two communities' broadband utility.

Philip Garrett will oversee the engineering of the second phase of MINET -- an expansion of broadband into residential areas of both towns.

Garrett will assemble a team of employees to operate the network, negotiate service contracts with vendors and handle day-to-day business operations.

"I've actually spent quite a bit of time as a consultant for MINET during the last four years," said Garrett, 37. The expansion "will be a good opportunity for people in the area ... to get fiber to their homes.

Independence City Manager Greg Ellis said the MINET board of directors solicited resumes instead of advertising the position.

"We decided it was better to go on personal reference within the industry," Ellis said. "We wanted somebody who has experience in fiber-to-the-home and is familiar with the technology we'll be using."

Garrett's salary will be about $60,000. He'll work out of the Monmouth Public Works office until MINET expands into its own facility. The cities have collectively budgeted $200,000 for that project.

Garrett began his duties Jan. 31. He and MINET's board of directors were to meet Feb. 1 to discuss which neighborhoods in Monmouth and Independence could be hooked up first.

Homes near city government buildings and those serviced by above-ground power lines are possibilities, officials have said.

"All we really need to do is the design work," Garrett said. "We can start rolling out the cable afterward."

Garrett got his start in telecommunications in 1993, as a student in Chemeketa Community College's computer-aided design and manufacturing program.

He paid his way through school by drafting blueprints for broadband networks and facilities during evening shifts at Aspen International Cable in Salem.

"It was something I excelled at," he said. "And I was quick to notice the nuances in the industry, as you're building out networks."

He eventually became the company's vice president. Later, he handled all of the West Coast operations of Vermont-based Precision Valley Communications.

Garrett has commuted from his home in Salem to the Bay Area in California for several days each week since 2002, helping Comcast upgrade its video cable systems.

The "grind" of constant travel was one of the reasons he decided to apply for the MINET position, which will allow him to spend more time with his wife and daughter.

The MINET expansion won't be Garrett's first experience with publicly-owned telecoms in rural communities. He assisted Grant and Chelan counties in Washington when they needed broadband networks.

"I'm a real advoate for this method of deploying technology because it has a huge benefit for smaller communities that wouldn't otherwise have access to these services," he said.



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