Highland County EDA July Meeting

At the Highland County Economic Development Authority’s July meeting, members learned more about funding that will be available for broadband expansion.  Hunter Moore from the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and Dr. Tamarah Holmes from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development participated in the meeting to answer questions and explain more about state and federal money that is available.

Fifty million dollars from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative is available for localities and, in addition, on July 16 the Governor announced a proposed plan for $700 million from federal funds to be used to expand broadband access to all Virginia residents by 2024.  The Virginia General Assembly will vote on the actual amount that will be available of the Governor’s proposal of $700 million.  The funding can be used for installation of a variety of technology.

The first step is for localities to submit a letter of intent, by July 27, in order to be eligible to submit an application in September.   Highland County, Bath County and the Bath-Highland Network Authority will each submit a letter of intent.

The EDA also discussed potential applications for new members.  The EDA currently has two open seats.  Betty Mitchell, the Economic Development Officer for the EDA, reported that she had two people ask for applications, which she had not gotten back yet.  EDA member Henry Budzinski had received a partially completed application from a local small business owner.  The EDA made plans to meet again on Wednesday July 28 at 7pm, to discuss any completed applications received by that time.  Mitchell also said there was interest from someone who is a second homeowner in Highland and she is waiting to hear back from the County Attorney to see if it’s possible for the EDA to change its bylaws to include absentee landowners as members.

EDA member Henry Budzinski discussed making a change to the EDA meeting location.  The EDA meets at The Highland Center, which costs $300 a year for use of the building and equipment.  He said the county’s Modular Conference Center is available for use at no charge, but there is a conflict there with the EDA’s regular meeting date.    Budzinski questioned if the EDA was being a good steward of taxpayer money by paying for meeting space.  He will check about available dates for use of the Modular Conference Center.

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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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