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Community needed in completing internet survey

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
 
The work to bring better internet accessibility to Carter County residents is continuing. 
 
Internet accessibility has become a crucial part of life, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in relation to schools, working from home and even telemedicine. 
 
To find out who is in need of better internet accessibility, a survey was conducted. While over 300 responses came in, the survey was online.
 
“It was all done online on Facebook,” explained Commissioner Robert Acuff. “The biggest disconnect, if you will, in that if you didn’t have access to the internet, know about the survey or see it on Facebook, you didn’t participate.”
 
Commissioner Mike Hill said that over half of families with school-aged children in his district (2nd district) don’t have a connection. 
 
“Those are the addresses that we need to identify so that we can nail down the pockets within a connection,” he said. 
 
To further increase data collection, Danny McClain, director of student support with Carter County Schools, has been asked to compile information on school families. 
 
Additional work done by the Health and Wellness Committee has included reaching out to utility providers for partnerships to qualify for grants.
 
Plans are also in place to have meetings with individuals, like Crystal Ivey, director of Broadband for the State of Tennessee, for guidance. All meetings, which take place via ZOOM, are available to the public at www.cartercountytn.gov
 
With increasing accessibility to the internet, the goal is to aid schools, telemedicine, economic development and more. 
 
The current grant being worked on has an Oct. 8 deadline. 
 
Hill explained the importance of additional survey information and his hope that people will partake. 
 
“The data collection part from potential customers is critical to this whole process,” he said. 
 
Both Hill and Acuff noted that work such as this on better connectivity should have been done years ago, however it is a start.
 
“I think this is an opportunity for us. It’s unfortunate that this effort didn’t begin several years ago, and now we are trying to push it through,” Acuff said. “I’m really proud of our Health and Welfare Committee and others on the commission that have come alongside to push this forward.”