FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2020
Bedford County Plans to Expand High-Speed Efficient Broadband Service Throughout Bedford County
The Bedford County Commissioners are pleased to announce we are moving ahead with Bedford County’s Broadband Infrastructure Plan. On Tuesday, the Bedford County Commissioners approved their agreement between Crowsnest Broadband LLC. This project will be funded from their portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) that may be used for expenditures to address the COVID-19 health emergency. In addition, the County has also made funds available through their Bedford County CARES Small Business, Tourism, and Nonprofit Support Grant Program that will also be funded from their CARES Act allocation.
“Crowsnest Broadband is beyond excited to partner with Bedford County in this first step to expanding broadband access in the county,” said Dwayne Zimmerman, Owner of Crowsnest Broadband LLC.
As part of their Regional Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in 2017, as well as every other county in the Southern Alleghenies Region, broadband infrastructure was listed as the top priority. Following the adoption of each county’s Regional Comprehensive Plan, the SAPDC Board of Directors consisting of County Commissioners from each of the Counties and members at large voted to form the Southern Alleghenies Broadband Task Force. The SAPDC board recently voted to support the development of a regional broadband non-profit that will be focused on addressing broadband in unserved and underserved locations throughout the region.
The Broadband Task Force worked diligently over the next year conducting research, identifying funding sources, and making the necessary connections. This led to the development of a Request for Proposal in 2019 to conduct an analysis of the region’s broadband infrastructure. The goal was to develop a roadmap for counties to begin implementing broadband throughout the region. The Broadband Task Force and the SAPDC approved Design Nine to carry out this goal.
The Bedford County Commissioners and the leadership of SAPDC recently finalized their broadband infrastructure roadmap that Design Nine assisted Bedford County with developing.
In partnership with Crowsnest Broadband LLC and the Bedford County Commissioners, the County will work to expand broadband service in Saxton and surrounding areas, Osterburg to Bedford and surrounding areas, Schellsburg to Breezewood and surrounding areas, Everett to Chanyesville and surrounding areas, and the Valley of Beans Cove and surrounding areas. As a requirement under the CARES Act, the broadband expansion project is scheduled to be completed and operational by December 30, 2020.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bedford County Commissioners emphasized that broadband is a necessity for everyday life. Schools, businesses, first responders, health care professionals, and the public rely on having efficient broadband connectivity.
“This is a hugely important initiative. Reliable, high-speed internet access is a critical component in our recruiting efforts,” said Jim Gonsman, Chairman of the Bedford County Development Association. “It will enable more remote work opportunities and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses from their homes. In today’s environment, internet infrastructure is as important as transportation infrastructure. We applaud the commissioners for taking this step to move our county forward.”
Danny Webb, Superintendent of the Everett Area School District said, “I am excited to see this area be part of a broadband project to help families with poor or no internet services. During this current Covid-19 emergency, we will be providing education both in person and online. Having quality and affordable high-speed internet in these areas greatly enhances the quality of instruction. Beyond education, it will also improve the economic outlook for our community.”
“Expanded broadband access in Bedford County will allow more residents to get the medical care they need, when they need it, from UPMC,” said Jan Fisher, President of UPMC Bedford-Altoona. “This means expanded access to our telemedicine options, including our UPMC AnywhereCare mobile app and virtual appointments with UPMC providers from the comfort of home. UPMC Bedford is excited about this opportunity to continue to serve members of our community where and when they need it most, especially during these times of heightened uncertainty amidst COVID-19.”
" This is the modern equivalent of rural electrification and a big gain for the county,” said Curt Sweinhart, President of the Bedford County Farm Bureau. “Access to broadband will help farmers use technology to improve their product as they continue to feed families during this pandemic."
Bedford County will be rolling out additional phases in the coming months and seeking additional providers to partner with to provide high-speed and efficient broadband service for the all of Bedford County. For the entire plan please visit: https://bedfordcountypa.org/covid-19_funding_portal.
Bedford County looks forward to working towards achieving the top goal outlined in its Regional Comprehensive Plan.