PRINCETON — If a grant application is approved, a community stretching from Bluefield to the Mercer County Airport will have more access to the advantages of broadband internet service.
A second public meeting was held recently before the Mercer County Commission about an application for a Fiscal Year 2019 Community Development Block Grant. The $615,398 grant would fund a broadband service extension, according to Jeff Raines of the Region I Planning and Development Council.
The proposed project would extend broadband from near College Avenue in Bluefield, then eight miles up Route 52 and Route 123, also known as Airport Road, to near the Mercer County Airport. Mercer County would not be contributing funds to the project.
“There is no match required,” Raines said. “It is a 100 percent grant from the CDBG.”
To qualify for the grant, the area being considered for improved broadband service must lack speed in its current service, and the area’s households must meet income requirements, he said. At least 50 to 51 percent of an area’s households must be ranked, based on statistics from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, as low to moderate income.
County Commission President Gene Buckner moved to approve the resolution supporting the application. The commissioners voted unanimously to approve it.
“We are working to try to get broadband in the county,” Commissioner Bill Archer said.
County residents in some areas have asked why they haven’t been able to get high-speed internet service. Archer said the commission is “not just ignoring the problem,” and that getting the service – with its expensive infrastructure – takes time.
“Each step we take is an incremental step in that direction,” he said.
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