Grant to Bring Broadband to McDowell and Deerfield

According to a press release, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday the award of $20.1 million in Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grants to improve broadband infrastructure in 17 localities. The funding will support 11 projects, connecting more than 13,400 households, businesses, and anchor institutions to high-speed internet, and leveraging $18.8 million in private and local investments.  One of those projects that was awarded funding is an Augusta County and MGW/Lingo project.  The award is $1,270,413.  Augusta County, through a partnership with MGW/Lingo, will construct a fiber to the home network to provide broadband access to 1,099 total locations, including 15 businesses in the McDowell and Deerfield areas of Highland and Augusta counties.

Administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), VATI provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas that are unserved by an internet service provider.  Governor Northam and the General Assembly made an investment of nearly $50 million in VATI funding during the November 2020 legislative session.

Projects were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project area.

In this application year, VATI received 45 applications from 53 units of local government that partnered with 26 internet service providers, requesting more than $105 million in funding. Five projects were announced in January in the first round of grants.   Eleven projects have been awarded funding in the second round of grants.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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