By Natasha Wilson
The biggest buzz between the Pendleton County Commission and the Pendleton County Board of Education meetings on Aug. 16 was approximately $4.8 million in broadband awards to the county.
Pendleton County received awards from multiple agencies to fund vital projects in the region. From stated agency sources, Lingo Networks received approximately $2.6 million to extend the county’s broadband system. The funding came from the Line Extension Advancement and Development program (LEAD). Another grand decision from the FIG ready program is pending.
The county worked with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council and the state broadband office to secure funding.
The federal government awarded nearly $2.3 million to the A ++ Partnership Education, a consortium combining the efforts of Pendleton County Schools and Pendleton County Library. Funding will come from the Federal Communications Commission’s, Emergency Connectivity Fund or ECF.
J.P. Mowery, business manager/treasurer for PCS, said, “This commitment from ECF is another tremendous opportunity for Pendleton County. It is truly staggering to think about the progress the county has made within the past 12 months regarding improving broadband for county citizens.”
According to Mowery, broadband council members, particularly EDA Executive Director Laura Brown and Pendleton County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Gillespie, continue to deserve much credit for their dedicated work behind the scenes in making these applications for funding look as attractive as possible to funding agencies. One of the review documents sent during the review process was more than 80 pages.
He added, “This project has the potential to drastically improve broadband access for hundreds of households in Pendleton County. While we are extremely grateful for this commitment, there is much work to be done with Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to work through the many details and regulations for this implementation.”
Lingo Networks of Staunton, Virginia, was the only provider who responded to the county’s request for the LEAD extension and will begin building the broadband network for Pendleton County as soon as the contract is received from the state office. Lingo Networks and Shentel were both grant recipients for ECF. The project is slated to be completed in August 2023.