POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission recently heard about an initiative to expand broadband throughout West Virginia from a representative from U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R) office.
Max Hyman, speaking on behalf of Capito’s office, said he was part of the “Capito Connect” tour to hear about issues related to the availability of broadband and high-speed Internet service in Mason County and across the state.
“We’re building a case for it,” Hyman said about making broadband more accessible for everyone, saying that access was now becoming a necessity.
Capito has said one of her top priorities for strengthening West Virginia was increasing broadband access in West Virginia. Her “Capito Connect” plan outlined three steps for achieving that goal and the first stop includes going out into communities to listen to ideas for how and where to build a West Virginia-specific plan for achieving widespread broadband availability. In the end, the plan hopes to make broadband easily available and affordable to all West Virginians.
A recent study by the Federal Communications Commission indicates that 56 percent of West Virginia residents do not have access to broadband services that meet its benchmarks, according to Capito.
Commission Rick Handley remarked on the need for broadband in the area when it came to area students. He also referenced those who attend Marshall University’s Mid-Ohio Valley Center which does provide Internet service. However, that service is offered at the center and it’s not guaranteed every student has Internet access when they go home.
Also at the meeting was Michael Chirico, field representative for U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins (R). Handley, along with commissioners Miles Epling and Tracy Doolitle, discussed a variety of issues with the Chirico and Hyman. One of those issues was finding funding or help with a portion of the Mason levee at the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W./Lottie Jenks Memorial Park, which is “washing out” as Handley put it. He asked the two men to reach out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if anything could be done.
County Clerk Diana Cromley also brought up a lack of cell phone service on portions of W.Va. 2.
In other commission news:
Commissioners approved the following budget revisions with funds carried over from the previous fiscal year: $12,000 to purchase furniture for the new counsel rooms which used to be the old law library on the third floor of the courthouse; $10,000 to the development authority; $100,000 to pay for the courthouse roof repair while waiting on reimbursement of those funds.
County Administrator John Gerlach reported Mason County Day Report workers would be working at Leon Park and that signs were being placed there and the bathrooms needed to be addressed if they were to be put back into operation.
Commissioners agreed to purchase new boots for workers at the Mason County Animal Shelter. The last purchase of these boots was three years ago.
Reach Beth Sergent at email@example.com or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.