Let's Get WV Connected! Broadband in West Virginia

Roane County

A more detailed page for Roane County, WV.

12/1/2020 Meeting by phone:

Mark Whitley introduced Delegate Elect Riley Keaton, 11th District (all of Roane, part of Jackson).

Delegate Keaton announced the FCC set aside $20B for Rural Opportunity Zones, about $766M is for WV; we have a lot of eligibility – 120,000 households, 14 eligible census tracts, and 4K eligible households. The FCC’s RDOF money is over 10 years, with a full speed commitment in 5 years. In WV, the limit on broadband insurance was suspended from a $10m cap; April is the expected date for funds to be released.

RCEDA gave $15K for the Roane and Calhoun area; $4K was spent on T&L for the first phase of the project. USDA Grant update: day before Thanksgiving, RCEDA, received USDA reconnect letter, saying we have 30 days to get work done (responses). We, will try to address their issues. They want comparative financial statements for Roane EDA; we gave them 5 years of audits; seems to be an issue with segregation of duties that is often a hit on the audits and is a byproduct of our rural area organization.

2nd item, our lender is Wes Banco; USDA want a better commitment letter. We’re looking at WV EDA for loan or loan guarantee for $2 mil.

3rd issue: USDA wants a better market analysis, with Citynet as provider with future expansion opportunity.

4 issue: USDA wants an executed agreement with Citynet, (Tyler county has an agreement in place to look at).

We created a bylaws sub-committee: Bill, John, Melissa, Mark, Kim.

Melissa elected to Chair to replace Matt.

Let’s Get WV Connected!

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Roane County Broadband Committee Meeting
Teleconference Meeting
September 14, 2020 11:30 a.m
.

Present: Matt Erb, Melissa O’Brien, Mark Whitley, Kim Davis, Joe McDonald, John Norman, Rick Atkinson, Bill Gross, and Lisa Messineo.

Others Present: Sheila Burch, Executive Director, Little Kanawha Area Development Corporation; Tom Hardman, President, Roane County Economic Development Authority; Eric Price, Project Manager, Thompson & Litton; Luke Peters, Community Development Program with Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council; and Barry McCune, Chair, CCR.

Absent: Jim Bostic, Linda Drennen, and Susan Larkin.
Introduction of Guests: Mark Whitley introduced Eric Price, Project Manager, Thompson & Litton and Tom Hardman, President of RCEDA. John Norman introduced Barry McCune, Chair of the CCR.

Called to Order: Matt Erb called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m.
Minutes: Mark Whitley made a Motion to accept the Minutes as presented. John Norman seconded
the Motion. A voice vote ensued with all members present in favor. Motion Carried.

Financials: No report was given.

UPDATES:
USDA Grant: Mark Whitley reported applications were still being reviewed.
Project Update: Eric Price discussed funding sources:
• CBDG Funding- $2 million across the State. Criteria – low to moderate income individuals;
• Reconnect;
• USDA; and
• $SO Million in CARES Act to fill in the gap. This is separate from the CBDG funding and can be leveraged to get 100% funding.

Mr. Price indicated the average allocation being distributed is $125,000 for design projects to get projects to the implementation phase.

Luke Peters indicated, from a regional standpoint, there needed to be a clearer view of where each of
the monies can be spent and what could be packaged with other resources.

Eric Price will send the RDOF Area, which will be the key driver after the Reconnect money. Those auctions are expected to be in October, areas not award could be eligible for other funding.
Members entered into discussions of what Roane County could be doing to be ready. Mr. Price identified the following actions that could be taken to be in a better position:
• Clearly identify areas that are not eligible for RDOF – make sure they are underserved;
• Cost Estimates;
• Exhibits;
• Preliminary Engineering;
• Identify areas;
• Go after CARES Act money for these areas;
• Areas outside of RDOF – get customer counts and start making plans on what it would take to
get it back to the servers;
• Try to disprove any areas that indicate they are served when they are not;
o Create Community Groups to assist with:
o Speed Tests;
o Door-to-Door canvasing – Lisa Messineo and Joe McDonald will work on identifying geographical locations to assist;
o Create agreed talking points before approaching potential customers.

Members agreed for a small number of people within the broadband group to come up with talking points and indicated they would need Eric’s maps before they could get started.

Melissa O’Brien reported the group could potentially use Roane County Schools survey to help identify areas of concern/problems for lack of service. Sheila Burch will check to see if Calhoun County Schools
also has survey and/or results. Luke Peters told members he already had Jackson Counties survey’s which indicated 80% were not served with adequate speed.

John Norman gave members an update on FirstEnergy’s fiber project. Mr. Norman reported FirstEnergy was still working with the ROC on developing an RFP and hoped to have approval from the PSC by October 2021. Mr. Norman stated there were two issues in determining the route: going along our current route or fiber in the bag concept. With the fiber in the bag there is some overlapping in Roane County from an engineering standpoint but we want to be flexible. FirstEnergy is waiting to see what happens with the USDA Grant.

Mark Whitley asked Mr. Price how much it would cost to provide design and planning to include, Roane, Calhoun, and Clay. Mr. Price indicated they should be able to provide those services between $10,000-$15,000.

Mark Whitley asked that Eric Price drop off the call at 12:16 p.m.

Members entered into discussions. John Norman made a Motion to request up to $15,000 in financial assistant from the Roane County Economic Development Authority for a design and planning study to be performed by Thompson and Litton which would include Roane, Calhoun and Clay Counties. Melissa O’Brien seconded the Motion. A voice vote ensued with all members on call in favor. Motion carried.

John Norman and Matt Erb will provide an update for the ROC. Matt Erb will assist Barry McCune and Sheila Burch with a draft letter to update their County Commissioners.

OTHER BUSINESS:
Being no other business brought before the committee, Lisa Messineo made a Motion to adjourn the meeting. John Norman seconded the Motion. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned.