Greene County Broadband Initiative Committee, Greene County and CenturyLink have completed a joint application for the Virginia Department of Housing Community Development Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant. If the grant funding is awarded, 320 households that are unserved would have access to 1 gigabyte fiber broadband internet. The VATI grant awards will be announced in January 2020.

Access to reliable internet service is vital for economic growth, education and even quality healthcare and safety.

“We think of vital infrastructure as being roads, pipes and electrical lines. Broadband internet service is now part of that list,” said Tammy Breski with the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Funding for the $475,000 project would be supported 30% by the grant and 70% from CenturyLink. The application seeks $142,500 in VATI grant and $332,500 committed from CenturyLink, which is roughly $445 per household. No county money is earmarked for this project.

“In today’s economy access to broadband is critical to support entrepreneurs and allow companies and citizens the flexibility to work from home. The importance of broadband access in the areas of education and telemedicine is growing exponentially each year.” shared Dale Herring, Greene County Board of Supervisors Liaison to the Broadband Initiative Committee. “Greene County is grateful to our partner CenturyLink for their financial support and willingness to expand service options in the county.”

The project area covers the areas of Greene Acres and Little Mountain Estates off Octonia Road and the homes and businesses in the Shady Grove from Mission Home and along Simmons Gap Road on the southern border of Greene and Albemarle counties.

Herring said he was told there is roughly $19 million in funding available but $43 million in requests.

“We’ve already started looking at next year’s grant,” Herring said.

Herring began the broadband advisory group for the county in January 2017.

“We’ve been really busy,” he said. “People have said we’ve missed previous grant opportunities, but to be honest with you we didn’t have all the information to successfully submit a grant. At this point, we have all the information, all the ducks are in a row, all the groundwork, all the foundation that we’ve done as a group has allowed us to submit what we consider a very good grant. I guess what I’m saying is thank you. It’s been a long three years, but we’re now seeing the light at the top.”

For service to be considered broadband for the VATI grant, it has to allow for 25 megabytes download and 3 megabytes upload. If Greene is awarded the grant, CenturyLink has said it should take about seven months to lay the fiber.

“The Broadband Initiative Committee is going to continue to look for opportunities and partners to expand broadband access to other unserved areas of our community.” Herring said.

For information about the department, visit https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/.

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Editor, Greene County Record

Terry Beigie is the Editor of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. She can be reached at tbeigie@greene-news.com or (434) 985-2315.

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