Government, Latest News, Monongalia County, Preston County

Preston, Mon officials discuss partnering for broadband grant

KINGWOOD — Preston County commissioners are considering a partnership with Monongalia County to apply for a grant to install broadband in some areas.

Preston Commissioner Don Smith, who represents the commission on the Region VI Planning Authority board, said he learned at a Region VI meeting last week about Small Cities Block Grants for opportunity zones and broadband.

Smith said he talked with Mon County Administrator Rennetta McClure about the two counties applying for a grant covering two opportunity zones, “that are across the [county] border from each other, to try and get fiber put in there for broadband.

Commissioner Smith said the northern boundary of the zone is around W.Va. 7 in the Masontown area and goes west to U.S. 119.

“It would help both counties,” he said. And, “it adds punch to the grant application because it’s shared.”

A decision must be made soon on which governmental agency will lead the effort, he noted. Discussions were for either the Preston County Economic Development Authority or Morgantown Area Partnership to take the lead.

Both counties’ economic development authorities are part of the partnership, he noted.

“I would like to see Preston County take the lead in it, because it could lead to additional opportunities for us in the future,” Commission President Samantha Stone said.

Preston County Administrator Kathy Mace suggested contacting Preston County Economic Development Authority Director Robbie Baylor to ask if she would be willing to take the lead.

The discussion was during the commission’s last meeting, Friday. The commission’s next meeting will be 6:15 p.m. Thursday.