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

Broadband group pick PUD to lead the effort

 

August 30, 2018



The Broadband Action Committee voted on Monday to make Wahkiakum PUD the lead agency in their continued bid to bring broadband to Wahkiakum County.

The committee is made up of representatives from the PUD, the county, the Town of Cathlamet, Port 1, Port 2, Wahkiakum West, and the Chamber of Commerce. Tim Hanigan and Bill Fashing from the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments are also involved. Steve Carson, who is trying to provide internet service to customers in Skamokawa was in attendance, as was Senator Dean Takko, who represents the 19th district.

The next step for the newly elected lead agency will be to apply for a grant to do a feasibility study on building broadband infrastructure in the county. The Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Revitalization Board for Washington state provides grants for studies like these, and it requires lead agencies to officially be approved, thus the vote on Monday night.

“It seemed to me the PUD was the proper entity to take the lead on this from the beginning,” Town Council member Ryan Smith said.

Everyone agreed.

“This doesn’t mean that the PUD is deciding to take and run with this thing and build something,” Fashing said. “They have accepted the responsibility of potentially doing first this feasibility study, trying to get a feel for where we are, and at some point, the commissioners will make a decision that yes it makes sense for the PUD to pursue this direction or no it doesn’t. The feasibility study may come back and say really here is what we think needs to happen and this other entity should play a role in it.”

The $50,000 CERB grant also requires a 25 percent match.

County Commissioner Mike Backman said that he had spoken with the county auditor and they were trying to find the $12,500 for the match.

The committee began the evening with a presentation from Paul Avis, the Superintendent of Telecom at the Kitsap PUD on the nuts and bolts of building broadband infrastructure. They later reviewed a self assessment survey from CERB, which clarified some of the things they still need to tackle.

 

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