The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Town, county express broadband interest


Local officials are coming together to study the feasibility of offering high speed, broadband internet service in Wahkiakum County.

Gene Healy, a member of the board of commissioners of Wahkiakum PUD, presented the issue to his fellow commissioners at their meeting last week, asking, "Do we need a broadband action team?"

This week, he raised the topic at meetings of the Cathlamet Town Council and Wahkiakum County board of commissioners, and members of both boards said they would join the team.

"I want to see if there's any role for any of us in the game," Healy told county commissioners.

"We need all the information we can get," Healy said. "And there needs to be a determination of demand."

Healy reported that he had attended a recent conference about broadband. It's a service that's increasingly in demand, he said, as people seek high speed internet service for business and entertainment. Because of low populations in rural areas, providers are reluctant to invest in the infrastructure needed for broadband, and public entities such as PUD's and port districts have begun to offer the service.

On Monday, Council Member Ryan Smith expressed interest in the broadband effort. He commented that Chattanooga, Tenn., had installed broadband with good results.

"Internet is being compared to access to water," Smith said, "and we don't want to be left behind."

County commissioners were interested in the proposal. Commissioner Mike Backman volunteered to be part of the action team, and Commissioner Blair Brady offered to find support from the National Association of Counties.

"This is a huge topic nationwide," Brady said.

Healy said Tuesday he would also visit meetings of the county's port commissions to see their interest.


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