Health & Welfare Committee… Internet, mentoring resolution focal points during January meeting

Published 2:54 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
Efforts to expand broadband internet to rural areas of Carter County continue to progress.
Dr. Robert Acuff, chairman of the Carter County Health and Welfare Committee, updated members on Tuesday about efforts to secure matching funds for an anticipated federal grant to assist with the broadband expansion.
Acuff said Carter County will be able to take advantage of paperwork prepared by a North Carolina county in preparing for the grant process.
“After speaking with County Attorney Josh Hardin, we will be able to use this same RFP for our internet project when the governor finally releases the internet grant money,” said Acuff. “We will just change the required updated information on this RFP and then Skybest can submit the RFP for the grant once that grant money is released.”
The Carter County school board has agreed to support the project with an additional $100,000, he said, adding that the county now has $3.2M in funds available for the project.
The 70-30 matching grant would provide internet to rural areas where service is not accessible in Carter County — specifically districts 1, 2, and 6. An estimated total of 10,200 residents could be serviced by the new internet service.
Acuff said customers outside those districts could connect as well depending on the route the project takes when installed.
Anticipated cost of service will be at least $50 per month, and Acuff said some assistance may be available to help those who cannot afford the service.
The committee also asked Hardin to draft a resolution to be presented to the full commission on Jan. 18 recognizing the month of January as National Mentoring Month. This is the 20th anniversary of an annual campaign to focus attention on the need for mentors.
In Carter County, mentoring programs such as PEAK Mentoring, Elizabethton Parks and Rec, and Carter County Drug Prevention work to make the community and the state stronger by driving impactful relationships that increase social capital for young people and provide invaluable support networks.

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