Mike O’Brien Discusses Broadband Efforts in Pocahontas County

In the first part of our interview with Mike O’Brien the Pocahontas County 911 Director, we discussed new things happening at the 911 Center. In this second part of our interview, we asked Mike to put on a different hat and talk to us as a member of the county Broadband Council and his thoughts about that.

Mike, you’re a member of the Pocahontas County Broadband council. Can you tell us about what’s happening there and what’s needed?

“Sure, so we are working with the Broadband Council” O’Brien said. “I was honored to be asked to be a part of that -something that really needs to be done in our county. try to improve Internet services. We’ve reached out to folks, and we’re continuing to reach out.  It’s very important that folks take the survey that’s out there. We need to know your Internet speeds. We need to know your physical address and your Internet speeds (and) your Internet service provider (ISP.)  It is very important. It’s what the state looks at when they look at these grants. These federal grants are based on your Internet speeds. We need to know that your service is not being met. It is very important to do that.”

“We’re working on gathering that information and getting it processed. There’s always grants out there that we are looking out these grants out there that we are looking at -looking to apply for. Region 4 (Planning and Development Council) is great to work with as far as assisting us with grants. And, I think there’s a lot of good things coming, but we can’t do it without the help of the community and input from them as far as Internet speeds and we need to hear from you. Keep growling!”

The survey, is that still on-line?

“We got to tweak it just a little bit and then we’re going to republish that again and push it out. I know folks get tired of taking surveys, but it is very important to take these surveys. We need that data to support our grant applications in order to improve the Internet service in the county.”

What about volunteers?

“Volunteers are great, we can always use help if volunteers gather data. Maybe some folks understand technology and how to do speed tests and some folks don’t, so they can assist people with doing that. I tell folks if we get one person to get ten people to take the survey, if fifteen people do that, that’s a hundred surveys. And that’s important to us. Without that data it’s hard to get grants.”

“We need to do everything we can and get volunteers to help and come together as a community here and try to better the Internet service in our community, because. You know, we don’t have cell service, we need Internet. It’s kind of our lifeline, and this day and time you can’t do much without some Internet.”

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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