Raleigh County One Step Closer to Rural Broadband Grant

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va (WOAY) – Raleigh County is one step closer to providing high-speed internet to areas that do not have access. On Tuesday, the county commission met for the second time to discuss applying for a Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant to give broadband internet to different parts of the county. 

“We went ahead and approved to submit for the grant,” County Commissioner Ron Hedrick said. “And that process will go through and if we’re lucky enough to win the grant then at that point, then we’ll put out and request proposals from different organizations to provide pricing to install that.” 

One of the companies who is interested in submitting a proposal is Countrymen Communications who has had success in Greenbrier County with expanding broadband. The company advocates for wireless access in rural areas.

“There are a lot of rural roads and areas that as you get to a cell tower that there’s fiber running right by someone’s house, right by someone’s business,” Countrymen Communications owner Carrie Scott said. “It’s just costly to try to get that fiber, that bandwidth out of that fiber and to the resident. If you did it wirelessly then the costs are limited and it’s quick. It’s efficient.”

If the grant application goes through and gets approved, those on Airport Road in Beaver will be the first to benefit, especially the businesses at the Airport Industrial Park. 

“If we want West Virginia to grow, if we want our children to stay here and have a place to work, internet is the first thing people look for. You can’t move your business anywhere that has no Internet access, no broadband access,” Scott said.

If Raleigh County gets approval for the grant and once they finish up on Airport Road, they will start moving into areas like Odd, Coal City and Eccles.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.