Wednesday, July 20, 2022

From a concerned member of the Osage Valley Electric Cooperative Board

As a Board Member of Osage Valley Electric and a voice for the members, I feel that the following needs to be addressed. 

The Board and Management of Osage Valley realized the need for Rural Broadband in our service area and embarked on a huge project to make that possible. 

This need became extremely apparent when the Pandemic hit, and people were being asked to work from home. Working from home is impossible for many as they have no access to high-speed internet. 

This was not a need just in our area, but all rural areas. With that apparent need, the government earmarked money for Broadband that it distributed to County Governments. 

Bates County received such funds, known as ARPA funds. Broadband was not the only thing the money could be used for but was specifically listed as an area of importance. 

The Manager of Osage Valley visited the County Commissioner’s in our Service Area to request ARPA money for Broadband to help with this huge endeavor. 

While other counties realized the urgent need to get Broadband to their rural members by distributing a portion of their funds to Osage Valley’s Broadband Project, Bates County’s Commissioner’s did not. This has been a huge disappointment to me as a Board Member and to the Management of Osage Valley. 

This does not mean that Bates County will not receive the high-quality high-speed internet service that is coming to our members, what it does mean is that those builds that have not yet started in Bates County will be delayed. 

This was a very hard decision for us to make, but it only seems fair that we move into counties that have supported the project with their ARPA funding made available for Broadband. To say I am disappointed in the Commissioner’s decision is an understatement. 

Please understand, there will be a second round of ARPA money coming this fall. How the Commissioners decide to allocate that is yet to be determined. 

Unfortunately, we cannot wait to see if those funds will be distributed towards Broadband and must at this time move the fiber build to Counties supporting Osage Valley’s Broadband Project. 

If this delay has affected you or if you want to know more about how the ARPA money was distributed by the County Government, I urge to you contact them for those answers. 

If you have questions for me, please feel free to message me and I will be happy to answer them. If I do not have an answer for you, I will get one! - Chelle Black 

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