HONESDALE -- The Wayne County Commissioners approved nearly $1.2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to expand broadband capabilities in the county. Following discussions and solicitation of proposals from local service providers, the county identified six projects intended to improve Internet access to homes and businesses. These projects include:
- $17,079.40 to support the Wayne Library Alliance "Smart Library" initiative. This will include access equipment and services that will be made available for loan to as many as 60 residents at one time.
- ICON Technologies will receive $361,887 to expand its fixed wireless broadband network that extends into areas where cable or fiber services are unavailable. The project will include tower work and other equipment that will cover 425 square miles and more than 22,000 people.
- $30,000 will go to the Wayne Highlands School District to expand its information technology network and provide more and better access for students with an increased dependency on broadband service to receive instruction and complete classwork.
- Laurel Highlands Total Communications will use $116,000 to replace critical central office equipment needed to maintain and expand residential and business broadband throughout its service territory in the west central area of Wayne County.
- Laurel Highlands will also receive $448,942 to expand fiber connectivity to five presently unserved areas encompassing up to 75 homes.
- Adams Cable will also expand service area in the Lake Ariel region to include up to 68 homes at a cost of $212,772.
“We have identified rural broadband upgrades as the top need in Wayne County for years and thanks to the CARES Act funding, we were finally able to take a giant leap forward toward that goal,” Wayne County Commissioners Brian Smith, Joe Adams and Jocelyn Cramer said. “We thank our local telecommunication companies for working with us to identify areas of need and agreeing to work quickly to bring high speed Internet to potentially thousands of customers. And we appreciate the Wayne Highlands School District and the Wayne Library Alliance for thinking outside the box to serve their communities during this pandemic that has dictated we change the way people work, learn and live.”
Federal CARES funding is provided to Wayne County through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, which has developed procedures that apply to broadband initiatives undertaken by counties. Projects must be completed and proposed broadband services must be available before December 30, 2020. Project sponsors that fail to meet the deadline will be ineligible for reimbursement and will be required to return any funding already received.