I was honored to host a panel last week at the Department of Agriculture’s Ag Outlook Forum to showcase the impact of USDA broadband programs on so many in rural communities. Our February 25th Rural Development panel, “Building a Stronger Rural Infrastructure: Broadband,” portrayed the ripple effect these investments have.
We heard from Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, which has provided electric power to consumers since WWII. They got into the broadband business because they recognized a need. Like many with a sense of community and knowledge of how broadband affects economic development, they successfully applied for Recovery Act broadband funding from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency. “This will ultimately change the landscape of New Mexico,” Luis told the audience. “This is an opportunity for us to partner with colleges, health care facilities and the community to expand businesses, hire more employees, build markets and improve healthcare. To think that a small co-op in New Mexico can turn a project into a model program nationwide is exciting.” Read more »
Earth Team Volunteer Robert Mosier and his friend Marcella Thomas stand in front of a trailer full of refurbished, soon-to-be-donated bicycles with Jack the dog. NRCS recognizes Robert as its top volunteer for 2011.
When you’re Robert Mosier, it’s easy to be green. He’s a native of Greensburg, Kansas; the community totally leveled in 2007 by a devastating tornado and rebuilt “green” by USDA and other federal agencies, state and local entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals like Mosier. Read more »
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. Read more »
Hillsboro, a rural Kansas community of just over 2,400 residents is nestled between the North Cottonwood and South Cottonwood Rivers in Marion County. Community leaders recently celebrated a groundbreaking in the frozen soils of central Kansas as the first step in the construction of their new community hospital.
The new 27,750 square foot facility will replace a 50-year old structure to provide health care to Hillsboro residents and serve nearby smaller communities as well. The new hospital is a partnership between the City of Hillsboro and HMC/CAH and was made possible by a USDA Rural Development Recovery Act Business and Industry Loan Guarantee in the amount of $9,250,000 to the Bank of Hays. Read more »
About 85 years ago, the leaders and generous residents of Pittsburg, Kansas rallied to build the Besse Hotel in the city’s quickly developing downtown district. The structure was a 13-story grand dame that catered to business travelers and visitors for decades with a grand ballroom, upscale restaurant as well as beautiful guest rooms.
However, after more than 50 years, the structure fell into disrepair and became a blight on Pittsburg’s downtown. Read more »
David Villano, assistant administrator of USDA’s Rural Utilities programs recently provided the keynote address to the 2010 Kansas Broadband Summit in Wichita. The Summit, entitled “A Fully Connected Kansas – Mission Possible” addressed topics of telemedicine, government services, economic development, mapping and digital accessibility. Over 180 attended including USDA Recovery Act broadband awardees Madison Telephone Co., LLC, NEX-Tech, and SC Telcom. The purpose of the summit was to begin building a statewide sustainable broadband focus. Read more »