Advertisement

$25 million rural broadband project to benefit 5 NCWV counties

A $25-million rural broadband project announced Monday will help connect roughly 16,000 West...
A $25-million rural broadband project announced Monday will help connect roughly 16,000 West Virginians to high-speed internet. (Photo: WDTV)(WDTV)
Published: Jan. 20, 2020 at 5:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A $25 million rural broadband project announced Monday will help connect roughly 16,000 West Virginians to high-speed internet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $18.7 million in the broadband infrastructure project. The remaining funds come from private investment.

It will ultimately connect more than 6,300 rural households and close to 400 farms between Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Barbour, and Upshur counties. Five educational facilities and one community center will also benefit.

"This is going to change the way people do homework, or how people work from home," USDA West Virginia State Director said.

The Harrison Rural Electrification Association Inc. will spearhead the project. It will construct a fiber-to-the-premises network over the next few years. Final preparations are still in the works for the projects, according to HREA CEO Terry Stout.

"We plan on building it big," Stout said. "It might be a jumping-off point for other people eventually to expand beyond where we're going with this grant money."

USDA officials said the grant is the fourth-largest such award in the country.

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee. West Virginia and Montana are the only two states in the country with both representatives on the influential committee in charge of distributing funds.

"This is a big undertaking for a very big underserved part of our state," Capito said.

There’s no official timeline yet for the completion of the project. But officials estimate it could take between two and three years to complete.

"We've made this our number one project," Manchin said. "We need to continue until we connect all of West Virginia."

The USDA will host a ReConnect Workshop in Morgantown on January 29 at the USDA State Office from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will give community leaders tips on how to apply for future grants