Two Newly Approved Grants Will Expand Broadband in Pocahontas County

At the February 8th Pocahontas County Broadband Council Meeting, Melissa O’Brien of the firm Thompson and Litton (T&L,) announced that their Line Extension and Deployment 2 Broadband Grant (LEAD 2) award will provide about 50 miles of fiber to 601 addresses, mostly in the county between Mace and the Scenic Highway. CityNet will be the Internet Service Provider for that grant. LEAD is part of the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan using funds provided by the West Virginia Legislature

The second grant, a LEAD 3 grant, was awarded to the Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone Company (SKSRT,) and covers areas in Northern Pocahontas County, including Durbin, Green Bank and Arbovale. This grant will provide 9 miles of fiber to 117 addresses.

Here are links to the press releases containing additional information about both of these grants:


Also at this meeting, Mike O’Brien, the county 911 Director told the council members that his counterparts in Bath, Highland, and Allegheny Counties in Virginia have told him they have experienced recent growths in populations which they believe are directly related to the recent increase in good internet service in those counties. Sarah Riley added that she has heard the same thing from her contacts in Richwood, WV.

Regarding the ARC Pocahontas Broadband Project, Brien Tew, also from T&L, said the project’s Mon Power pole agreements are progressing, with only 3 proposals outstanding. He added there “is a well-defined path forward.” Tew explained the Special Use Permit and the Environmental studies are done and approved, and as soon as the pole agreements are complete, they will be ready to start construction. Regarding the Frontier pole agreements, CityNet is in the process of assuming what had been the county’s role in those, and they should be able to wrap those agreements ten times more quickly than the county could have been able to do.

The BEAD NTIA grant was discussed. Ruthana Beezley told the members that the state is in the process of challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) maps for BEAD funding. Mike O’Brien added that the NTIA -which is the FCC’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration – involves very complicated processes, and the registration to receive funding through this program begins from February 10th to March 10th. John Tuggle of Region 4 said NTIA had better get information out about this very quickly.

Mike O’Brien described how the Pocahontas 911 Center is working with both Highland and Bath Counties on a joint emergency communications system, and the Green Bank Observatory is willing to make concessions to make that system happen.

O’Brien also said that the Director of the Observatory has told him it might be possible to actually get cell phone service into the Green Bank area without interference to the radio telescope If cell towers switched from using Ultra High frequencies (UHF) down to using Very High Frequencies (VHF,) since the lower frequencies of VHF are less harmful to the observatories’ equipment.

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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