Residents of Preston County, West Virginia are being encouraged to take a survey before April 5, in order to qualify for a broadband grant, reports the Dominion Post. The USDA Rural Utilities Service Community-Oriented Connectivity Broadband Grant Program is designed to extend internet access to underserved areas.
Preston officials noted that this is the region’s third attempt to gain the grant.
If approved, the grant will help bring internet service “at the designated broadband grant speed of at least 25 Mbps down and 25 Mbps up” to over 1,200 households in Preston County. Last year’s application missed funding approval by just a few points.
If funding is approved this year, the grant will enable the Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA) to partner with Digital Communications and begin the broadband installation. The project is expected to include 84 miles of trunk fiber.
Senator Joseph Manchin (D -WV) and others have written letters of support for the plan. In its letter, the Preston Memorial Hospital stated, “For healthcare services, clinics could be built where they do not exist currently because of non-existent broadband internet service. In addition, we could utilize other methods of contacting patients, like email or text messaging, which is not possible in many cases because so many of our patients don’t have internet/email accounts and cell service at their homes. Sounds unbelievable today, but the lack of broadband is just another barrier contributing to the poor health outcomes for our citizens in West Virginia.”
Preston County residents can take the survey in person at the PCEDA offices above the Clear Mountain Bank in Kingwood, or take the survey online.
March 13, 2019