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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / EPB's corporate headquarters is at Market Street and M.L. King Boulevard in downtown Chattanooga.

Two educators who are helping lead efforts to use Chattanooga's high-speed internet have been appointed to the board of EPB, which developed the nation's first citywide Gig service a decade ago.

Hamilton County Schools Supt. Bryan Johnson and UTC Professor Mina Sartipi were named to the 5-member EPB board by Mayor Andy Berke and confirmed this week by the Chattanooga City Council.

Dr. Johnson will replace the late Warren Logan, the former president of the Greater Chattanooga Area Urban League who served on the EPB board for more than 20 years until his death last month. Dr. Sartipi will fill the term of Marcus Shaw, the former CoLab director in Chattanooga who recently relocated to Washington D.C. after serving nearly two years on the EPB board.

The new EPB appointees will join the utility board at their next meeting on Feb. 19th when the panel will elect a new chair to succeed Logan. EPB Vice Chair Vicky Gregg, the former CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee who chaired the EPB board meeting last month, was also reappointed for another 4-year term this week by the city.

EPB is a city-owned utility whose board is appointed by the mayor but operates as a separate entity regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is also EPB's wholesale power supplier. EPB built a fiber-optic network more than a decade ago to upgrade its power grid and has used the technology since 2010 to offer high-speed internet, video or telephone services across its 600-square-mile service territory.

The new board members at EPB have helped to expand the use and research capabilities of EPB's Fiber Optics in recent years.

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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Hamilton County Schools superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson

Johnson has served as head of Hamilton County public schools for the past four years and helped launch a pioneering program last year to bring free EPB internet service to all low- and moderate-income students receiving free or reduced-price lunches in Hamilton County schools. EPB joined with Hamilton County Schools and used city, county and foundation funds to launch HCS EdConnect, a fiber-optic broadband internet service that has already extended high-speed internet to 7,100 households with more than 12,000 students.

Last fall, Johnson also was named the 2021 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. A Nashville native, Johnson was previously superintendent of Carksville-Montgomery schools before being recruited to Chattanooga in 2017.

Sartipi is the director of UTC's Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP) where she is a UC Foundation Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. She also leads the Smart Communications and Analysis Lab which uses EPB's high-speed fiber optic network to study transportation, energy and other activities in Chattanooga.

She was awarded the UTC Outstanding Faculty Research and Creative Achievement award in 2016 and also was awarded the best researcher in her department at UTC in 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015. She also serves on the board of Variable, Inc. in Chattanooga.

EPB board members are paid $100 a month. The board chair is paid $750 a month and the vice chair is paid $150 a month.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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Staff photo by Tim Barber / Dr. Mina Sartipi is director of the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

 

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