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More broadband internet options coming soon

DAVENPORT — One of the potential pitfalls of seeking housing refuge in rural Lincoln County is a lack of broadband internet access, which creates difficulties for children with online work or businesspeople trying to work remotely. The county and Economic Development Council are trying to tear down this barrier, with three projects funded and one more potentially upcoming.

The first is a Community Economic Revitalization Board grant that was awarded in July 2021 and provides fiber to Creston, Harrington and Almira with middle mile up to 1 gigabyte between Wilbur and Almira. The grant was for $1,963,920 with a 20% match from the county, which the commissioners used $490,980 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to fund.

The commissioners voted Wednesday to follow the EDC’s recommendation to use Graybar’s bid for the work, and the county will go out for construction RFP in a couple weeks, EDC director Janice Meats said.

“We’re hoping to break ground in late spring or early summer,” Meats said.

Franchises with municipalities have been signed in Harrington, Creston and Almira, with Wilbur pending, she said.

The State Broadband Office added $818,300 in conjunction with the CERB grant Jan. 25 to assist the county with built-ready costs.

The second grant is from the Public Works Board that was awarded in Jan. 2022 totaling $4,162,072 with no match requirement for broadband in Odessa, Sprague, Reardan and the Hawk Creek housing development. Middle mile would be between Hawk Creek and Creston.

“We hope for construction to begin later this year,” Meats said, while noting the project will likely be completed in 2024.

The State Broadband Office added $1,264,357 to assist with this project, which was awarded Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The third grant is from the State Broadband Office for $5,218,072 in Wilbur and Davenport with middle mile from Harrington to Sprague, with no county match required.

A second grant application has been submitted to the Public Works Board for $8,921,342 for broadband in Seven Bays and Deer Meadows with middle mile from Hawk Creek to Seven Bays, but funding hasn’t been awarded yet.

“Feb. 25 is the estimated hearback date,” Meats said.

The county is also working with stakeholders in Grant County for a USDA joint grant in the northwest part of Lincoln County toward Grand Coulee Dam. Additionally, the EDC is working with Texas-based Breaking Point Solutions to conduct study on rapid design for rural, unfunded and unincorporated areas like Devil’s Gap, Keller and Edwall countywide. That design is expected to be done by June, Meats said.

Author Bio

Drew Lawson, Editor

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Drew Lawson is the editor of the Davenport Times. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.


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