Region 4 Planning and Development Council (PDC) is seeking a HUD Community Development Block Grant to help fund a comprehensive study of existing broadband conditions in the counties it serves, which includes Pocahontas County. The outcome of the study will be to determine options to improve access and service.
The study will look at locations which have no Internet service, as well as areas that have inadequate service, while identifying current service providers.
In June of this year, the West Virginia Development Office published its draft of the Supplement to the 2017 DCBG Program design to include funding for Broadband Development.
It states that the HUD Consolidated Plan for the State of West Virginia has identified three primary community development objectives.
One of those objectives is to “support local government efforts to provide affordable infrastructure systems.”
It goes on to say, “in 2016, HUD directed that States evaluate the availability of broadband access and to Narrow the Digital Divide.”
“In this rule, HUD directs that where access to broadband is not currently available or is minimally available, as in rural areas, States must consider ways to bring broadband access to residents.”
Region 4 PDC Executive Director John Tuggle said no projects are in progress at this time.
In this initial stage, he is seeking input from the public to assist in conveying issues and frustrations rural residence encounter because of no Internet access or poor service and speed.
He is particularly interested in how lack of access, poor speed and or unreliable connections affect students who take educational courses online.
In addition, Tuggle said he would like to hear from folks who use the Internet to convey and receive medical information.
Anyone whose current Internet situation is inadequate is encouraged to send comments to Tuggle.
Those comments should be Internet related, and “should not beat on politicians,” Tuggle said.
The Internet speeds collected by The Pocahontas Times last fall have been shared with organizations who have the ability to make an impact on improving broadband to this area. The spreadsheet of information has been given to Tuggle, as well.
Comments to assist Region 4 in acquiring a grant for a comprehensive study may be sent to: John Tuggle, Executive Director, Region 4 Planning and Development, 885 Broad Street, Suite 100, Summersville, WV 26651 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org