County officials update stakeholders on major broadband project
In February, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded 13 grants as part of the Broadband Infrastructure Program. These grants, totaling more than $277 million, will be used to connect more than 133,000 unserved households nationwide.
More than 5,300 of those households are in Scott County.
Judge/Executive Joe Pat Covington and the Scott County fiscal court recently secured $3,123,999 with the Scott County Rural Broadband Expansion Project, a last-mile project. This project will construct fiber to serve 5,351 unserved households in the project area, reaching all of the currently unserved homes.
This week, Scott County officials met with legislators and stakeholders in the project to discuss the community impact and tour school campuses as the project moves forward.
For Scott County officials, a glaring issue in their respective districts was making sure children had access to online learning.
Magistrate Rick Hostetler, whose district includes northern Scott County and Sadieville, said several students had to go to the Love’s Travel Stop off I-75 for internet access during the pandemic.
Magistrate David Livingston, who also serves as KACo first vice president, said his wife, an elementary school teacher, had to accommodate many students who continue to be without broadband today.
“There were a lot of times when she had to take paper packets out to her students because the kids didn’t have access,” Livingston said. “Being able to provide that to them will be absolutely amazing.
“We are going to increase our speeds within the city,” Livingston added, “and I’m very grateful for everyone that’s at the table because it takes one big team. No one can do it by themselves.”
Magistrate Alvin Lyons, who represents District 2, said his district is possibly the second most rural of Scott County’s seven districts.
“Many of those 5,300 homes are in my district,” Lyons said. “We are very excited to get this going. I totally understand the importance of it.”
Congressman Andy Barr, Sen. Damon Thayer and Rep. Phillip Pratt attended the roundtable event Thursday. Department for Local Government Commissioner Dennis Keene and Scott County school district superintendent Billy Parker also spoke, among others, at the session.
“I want to thank Judge/Executive Joe Pat Covington,” Congressman Barr said. “Ever since he was elected, he’s been like a dog with a bone on broadband. We’ve had these conversations, and he told me time and time again ‘Broadband, broadband, broadband, we have to have it.’”
Covington echoed that sentiment toward Scott County’s fiscal court.
“I really want to thank the fiscal court in their shared vision to push this forward with their willingness and commitment that we had to commit general fund dollars to the project, because they knew how important it was to the community,” Covington said. “This has been a team effort.
“I’m really proud of being able to move this forward and what it will do for our community today and into the future,” Covington added.
“We appreciate all these efforts,” Hostetler said. “It’s a huge help for our county.”
To read more about the February announcement of the grant, click here.
Photo caption: Roundtable participants included, front row from left: Mary Pat Regan, deputy secretary of Education and Workforce Development; Joe Pat Covington, Scott County judge/executive; Andy Berke, special representative for Broadband; Congressman Andy Barr; Dennis Keene, Department for Local Government commissioner; Sen. Damon Thayer and Rep. Phillip Pratt. On the second row from left are Ben U’sellis, Charter Communications director of government affairs; Stephanie Nelson, field representative; Billy Parker, Scott County school district superintendent; Dwayne Ellison, District 5 magistrate; Patti Burnside, Scott County Public Library executive director; and Rick Hostetler, District 1 magistrate. In back from left are: Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather, Alvin Lyons, District 2 magistrate; David Livingston, District 7 magistrate; and Tim Thompson, District 6 magistrate.