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Government & Politics

Calloway Co. Fiscal Court Approves Agreement To Apply For Broadband Grant Funding

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Liam Niemeyer
/
WKMS

  The Calloway County Fiscal Court approved an agreement Tuesday to apply for up to $5 million in federal grant money, working alongside West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative, through the C.A.R.E.S. Act to potentially build broadband internet infrastructure for county residents who lack access. That funding would be matched by up to $5 million in county funds and at least $5 millions from West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative (WK&T).

 

“We have serious deficiencies in my opinion with regards to our internet coverage in Calloway County,” said Judge-Executive Kenny Imes at Tuesday’s special-called meeting. “Murray is well-covered with high speed internet. Most of the outer border of the county along the lake and then around until you get north has good internet service. Then you have that core in between that we don’t have either adequate, or no service.”

 

The fiscal court also approved a separate agreement last week to invest $25,000 into a preliminary study with WK&T to determine how many county residents lack internet access. Imes said initial estimates show about 4,400 households could benefit from the broadband expansion, promoting business and educational opportunities. Imes also said the county would most likely have to borrow money to contribute the matching county funds to the project.

 

“I don’t like long-term debt, but to be realistic, that’s the only way we’re going to get there,” Imes said. “Calloway County has a bonding capacity of $51 million.”

 

Two county magistrates voted against the agreement to apply for the grant, with Imes being the tie-breaking vote for approval. Don Cherry, District Three Magistrate, asked whether using funding for broadband instead of paving roads was an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

 

“We do a lot of paving out on the roads in Calloway County,” said Cherry, who voted against the agreement. “I admit there’s a need [for broadband], I’m just questioning our financial ability to meet those needs.” 

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