Residents Urged to Take Broadband Internet Test
At a recent meeting of the Tyler County Commission, Eric Price – senior project manager with Thompson and Litton – informed the commission that the county’s broadband project is quickly moving along, but Price still needs more specific information about the area’s current broadband speeds. Residents are encouraged to take the West Virginia High Speed Test at broadband.wv.gov and fill out the survey at the end of the test. Price stated the survey is one of the more critical parts, because the information allows engineers to determine which areas are lacking most in reliable internet and cellular services. Residents may take the test as often as they like, as the more information prepared, the better for the county as a whole.
Price said the figures from the West Virginia High Speed Internet Test are crucial in the development of the broadband project, as well as acquiring funding for the project. Right now, the USDA offers funding for the project, but the funding is designed to help those out in the less populated areas of the county – as opposed to a town with already established internet.
Price noted there was some already established infrastructure in place from outside providers – such as Frontier, and there is fiber optic line already in place at the courthouse, school, and a few other facilities. The ultimate goal is to provide internet speeds of 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload (which is the definition of broadband) to at least 80 percent of the county. Price feels the best way to do this is to run two main fiber optic lines out of the north and two out of the south to connect to Tyler County to the larger fiber lines existing outside of the county. He also referenced using Klondike Tower as a way to expand cellular and fiber-optic service to the county.
The commission also discussed the possibility of pairing up with another county with poor internet service (i.e. Ritchie County) to help absorb some of the costs while providing a reliable internet service to both counties. Price also stated he will look into available grant funding for the project, but again, the results from the high speed internet test will play a key role in the amount of federal funding received.
It was noted reliable broadband can increase home values by an average of 3.1 percent, and small business owners report that using broadband increases sales and creates jobs. Approximately 97 percent of Americans search online for local product, but just half of small businesses have websites. The advancement of broadband can open the door for new business to have success through an online market that they previously could not reach.
In other news, Probation Officer Bryan Hostetler requested the commission purchase a bullet proof vest for probation officers making home visits. Hostetler mentioned the West Virginia Supreme Court will purchase the vest but requested that the county reimburse the cost. Hostetler mentioned there are three counties in the district, and the other two counties have each agreed to purchase one vest to help ensure each officer will have a vest ready when making a home visit. Therefore, a motion passed to purchase one bullet proof vest at the price of $649.
In another matter, Corner 2 Corner Land Surveying will conduct some surveying at the Tyler County 4-H Campgrounds, so the commission passed a motion to accept the estimate of the project in the amount of $880.
The commission also received bids for the judicial annex on the courthouse. Commissioner Eric Vincent noted the commission previously held a meeting with Mr. John Stump of Charleston (who is familiar with public works of state agencies, counties, municipalities, and public services) to get an outside opinion of the project. After reviewing the bids, the commission chose McKinley and Associates out of Wheeling to complete the judicial annex.
The commission also received two bids for shelving to be installed in Deputy Dalrymple’s cruiser. Truck Walt won the bid with a price of $3,516.
Also, Commissioner Vincent took time to thank all of the people who helped with this year’s election. It was noted there was a great voter turnout, and the election process went very smooth.
The next Tyler County Commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27 beginning at 9 a.m. and located at the Tyler County Courthouse in Middlebourne.