2018-01-31 / Front Page

Commission gets $75K broadband planning grant

The Morgan County Commission has received one of 12 block grants set aside for broadband projects around West Virginia.

A $75,000 planning grant will let the county develop a plan to make affordable high-speed broadband internet service available across the county using the county's existing towers  and radio equipment.

The Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is distributed through the West Virginia Development Office.

Governor Jim Justice released the grant funds during a ceremony on Thursday, February 1, in Charleston.

Governor Justice released  more than $12 million in Community Development Block Grant funds dedicated to infrastructure projects throughout the state. It was the first time the state used some of the funds for broadband planning and infrastructure projects.

 Morgan County submitting their application for the planning grant at the end of October after holding two public hearings on the issue.

The grant will allow the county to hire experts in broadband internet transmission to map out a way to get the service to all county residents, regardless of geographic location. Broadband internet is available in some places in Morgan County, but not all.

“If West Virginia expects to be competitive with the rest of the world, we must have high speed internet connectivity. This funding reflects our commitment to this effort," Justice said of the broadband grants.

 Morgan County Commissioner Bob Ford, who spearheaded the grant effort, had earlier said a committee of local people would be formed to move ahead with planning if the grant was approved. Ford and grants administrator Stefanie Allemong attended the February 1 presentation.

Town water not on final list

An initial press release about the block grants on February 2 also said the Town of Bath had received a $1.5 million grant to pay for the next phase of public water main replacement work.

Contacted on Friday by The Messenger for a comment on the award, Mayor Scott Merki said the announcement of the grant was a mistake. The Department of Commerce later confirmed the error.

West Virginia officials later revised their grants press release, removing the Town of Bath from the list of recipients and adding Putnam County’s water extension project instead.

Nine public water and sewer agencies in West Virginia got infrastructure grants.

Merki was disappointed not to receive the grant for the second year in a row, but said state officials reassured him the grant for pipe replacement work along Cornelius Avenue, Johnson Mill Road, Merrywoods Drive and the Berryville area would be awarded next year.

 

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