Yates County broadband project gets boost
By MIKE HIBBARD [email protected]
Aug 18, 2023 Updated Sep 12, 2023
PENN YAN — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving Yates County a $3.2 million grant to complete its broadband project — and an extra year to complete the job.
The County Legislature approved the grant agreement at a special meeting last week.
The grant comes more than three years after the county was approved for $10.4 million in funding through the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service “ReConnect” program. The county match was $3.6 million.
There has been some work on the project since then, but county Administrator Nonie Flynn said costs rose significantly due to a number of factors beyond the county’s control. She added that delays were widespread across the telecommunications industry during that time.
Flynn said the USDA, seeing those issues, took the unprecedented step of offering grant recipients the chance to apply for more funding without a local match. The USDA also gave them another year to complete their projects.
Flynn said when county officials learned of the additional funding, project manager Marian Walrath and county Planner Jeff Ayers submitted the application. The county asked for approximately $3.9 million and received about $3.2 million.
“We are thrilled that we received this additional funding from the USDA,” Flynn said. “This is crucial to fulfilling our original goal to get affordable, reliable, high-speed internet to areas of our county that currently do not have that.”
The project, when complete, will encompass a 285-mile build to provide high-speed internet access to approximately 1,650 unserved or underserved households and businesses in the county.
“This infusion of additional grant funding really serves as a testament to the unique challenges the county’s ReConnect project has faced,” Ayers said. “It also highlights the strength of the partnership between Yates County and the USDA in ensuring the success of this shared endeavor.”