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USDA approves broadband funding in central W.Va.

By BROOKE BINNS

The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS, W.Va.  — Several area counties will see a benefit from a broadband project in the future.

In 2016, the Randolph County Development Authority, with the Barbour County Development Authority and the Upshur County Development Authority, formed together as the Central West Virginia Development Association to create the largest project proposal to be submitted to the United States Development Authority’s Community Connect program.

During the Randolph County Development Authority’s regular meeting on Wednesday, Robbie Morris, the RCDA’s executive director, announced the grant has been approved.

Some $3 million worth of funding was approved, which was matched by $450,000, to expand broadband service in Randolph, Barbour and Upshur counties.

“This is a huge deal for the county and the region,” Morris said.

He added that of 72 applicants across the United States that requested $119 million for projects, nine projects were awarded for just over $10 million.

Morris explained that in the near future, steps will be taken to get the project underway.

“Where we are time frame-wise, we are waiting on the actual documents from the USDA,” Morris said. “Then, we will start the process of hiring – putting out the bid for construction and engineering and figuring out the plan.”

Morris has said the areas in Randolph County that would be covered include Mabie, Cassity, Coalton, Norton, Dailey, Valley Bend and areas around Beverly, including Kings Run Road, and areas around Camp Pioneer. Approximately 9,000 people will be served in Randolph County, which includes approximately 3,700-3,800 households.

RCDA’s next regular meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Aug. 2.

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