Community, Government, Latest News, Preston County

PCEDA director applies for new broadband grant

Surveys available for area residents’ feedback on speed

KINGWOOD — A USDA Community Connect Broadband (CCB) Grant  could bring Internet service to several areas of Preston County.

  Roberta Baylor, executive director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA), told Preston County commissioners she is applying for a Community Connect Broadband Grant.

 If the grant is approved, it would be used to provide broadband service to  eastern Preston County, including a portion of Hazelton Road, Big Bear’s permanent housing residents, Cranesville and  south Terra Alta out the Aurora Pike to Aurora, Eglon, Silver Lake and Horseshoe Run.

“With COVID, this service would  be especially helpful for school kids, seniors for telemedical appointments, businesses and people who work from home,” Baylor said after the meeting.

She said the PCEDA  has Survey Monkey surveys out for people in those areas to  complete and send to the PCEDA. 

 Baylor said the PCEDA is also asking residents to send in speed tests.

“If you don’t have broadband service, please write us  a letter,” she said.

The letters can be addressed to Preston County Economic Development Authority, 157 Plaza Court, Suite 8, Kingwood, WV26537.

The CCB grant is scored on 100 points. Baylor said 40% of the score is based on community participation.

In February, The Dominion Post reported The West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council  prepared a map showing fixed wireline speeds as advertised by providers for consumers, taken from FCC Form 477.

 It showed Preston County had only one area, around Interstate 68 in the northern end of the county, with download speeds of 1,000 Mbps and up.

 Most of the county was shown at 100 Mbps or less, and large swaths of Preston as “no service with population” and less than 10.

  In other business,   County Administrator Kathy Mace said the county is requesting a $19,864.40 reimbursement of  the 2020 HAVA Grant. 

The grant was used  to provide security at the election center at the Kingwood Plaza and buy additional vote-counting machines.

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