A small rural community half way between Kansas City and Springfield is the Village of Brownington, possibly the best kept secret of Henry County. Nestled comfortably along the Harry S. Truman Lake, the Village consists of 119 residents with 68 housing units covering a land area of only 0.15 sq. miles. Their numbers may be small, but their courage and determination to revive their community is remarkable.
To the delight of the residents, the Village was recently awarded a grant for access to broadband service and the construction of a Community Center. The broadband service is a result of a program administered by USDA Rural Development. The program known as “Community Connect” provides grants to eligible applicants to establish broadband service in rural communities that are not currently served.
Tony Gilbert, with TurkeyFoot Construction, LLC, submitted an application and was successful. The community received almost half a million dollars to provide broadband access to the community residents with a target date of spring 2011, provide free service to critical community infrastructure (ie. police, fire, rescue and community buildings) and provide a community center with a minimum of 10 computers with technical assistance on the computers, applications, training, internet access and monitoring of the computers.
The opening of a new community center was celebrated in a ribbon cutting ceremony on a very cold day in January 2011 with a blanket of snow on the ground with Anita J. (Janie) Dunning, Missouri Rural Development State Director; Chris Collins, USDA General Field Representative, that assisted with the grant application; along with the trustees of the Village in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Gilbert said, “It gives me great pleasure to see the kids and adults using the facility and it gives them something that they would not have had without the help of USDA Rural Development.” He added that the community center has been operational since early December 2010 and they expanded the hours to accommodate the use by more residents.
At USDA, we are very pleased to utilize the Community Connect program to assist the Brownington community. Providing broadband transmission service will help promote economic growth and deliver enhanced educational, health care and public safety services. This will help bring the rural residents into the digital age.
Local residents are excited about the center and looking for ways to inform others about the center and the benefits to the residents. Inquiries have been made by the fire department and police department plus the local school to utilize the center for training and other educational purposes.
To learn more about broadband programs offered by USDA, click here.