Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer

Amid large fanfare this week, it was announced that Union residents now have a new option for TV and broadband Internet services — AT&T U-verse.

“This is a very proud day in the history of Franklin County,” Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said.

AT&T was able to expand its U-verse services thanks to legislation Griesheimer pushed when he was in the state Senate in 2007, company officials say.

“Broadband brings fiber further out to the community,” AT&T Missouri President John Sondag said. “It brings these types of services now to Union.”

The bill that Griesheimer supported removed barriers and allowed AT&T to compete and invest in Missouri, Sondag said. Now U-verse services are available in more than 2.2 million living units in the state, he added.

Officials from AT&T Missouri and Franklin County’s delegation from the state Legislature filled the county commission chambers this week for what Griesheimer billed as a “major announcement” for the county and Union.

Sondag recognized Griesheimer for his efforts in pushing the 2007 Video Services Providers Act.

“Up until that point we were really not allowed to get in and compete against the cable companies,” Sondag said.

“The bottom line is it’s all about providing customers choices and giving them better services,” Sondag said.

Sondag said over the past several years, the Legislature has created a more pro-business environment. AT&T’s investment of nearly

$2.2 billion in networks in Missouri from 2009 to 2012 is in direct relationship to the Legislature’s efforts to get rid of old regulations, he added.

Union Mayor Mike Livengood said he knows the importance of having quality Internet services.

Livengood said the city gets complaints about a lack of Internet service in the area, and there are subdivisions that are not online.

“We’ve got a couple of places out on the outskirts that really are demanding and really are wanting service,” Livengood said. “We’re very, very pleased and honored to have AT&T and U-verse expansions.”

By the end of 2015, AT&T’s goal is to have broadband services offered to 99 percent of customer locations in Missouri.

This provides the city another chance to grow, the mayor noted.

State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, said the state needs more policies like the 2007 Video Services Providers Act that Griesheimer pushed when he was in the senate. Such policies encourage infrastructure development in communities to help attract business, Curtman said.

State Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, presented Griesheimer with a resolution from the Missouri House thanking him for his efforts on the legislation.

Griesheimer said it was a “privilege” and “honor” to work on the legislation with Sondag, adding that it took two years to pass.

Prior to the bill passing, there were basically two choices for services, cable and satellite, Griesheimer said.

The bill forced cable and satellite providers to improve services and provide consumers with more options for Internet, video services and high-speed technology, he added.

State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, also applauded the effort, saying technology is vital for everything from big business operations to school homework. Sondag noted that Nieves was in the House when the 2007 bill passed and helped get the legislation approved.

A spokesman for House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, was also present to share his appreciation for enhanced Internet capabilities.