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Posts tagged: Recovery Act

Mississippi Hosts A Recovery Act Broadband Workshop-Five Counties to Receive Broadband Service

With much of Mississippi located in rural areas and many of those rural areas lacking broadband access, it should be no surprise when USDA Rural Development’s Mississippi team chose to take extra initiative to make sure that Mississippi’s rural cities and counties take full advantage of the opportunities presented under the Recovery Act’s broadband funding.

And that is exactly what Mississippi’s State Director Trina N. George did when she hosted a Outreach and Training Workshop, held in Jackson on Tuesday, February 23rd for Mississippi applicants for USDA Rural Development Broadband funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“For rural Mississippi to get its fair share of broadband funds,” said State Director George, “we feel we must submit competitive and complete applications. This workshop was to help us achieve that goal.”

Earlier today, USDA announced that the Bay Springs Telephone Co.’s Bay Springs Broadband Initiatives Project would receive a $4.3 million loan and $4.1 million grant. The funding will expand advanced DSL broadband services to unserved and underserved areas within five counties Jasper, Jones, Rankin, Scott, and Smith.

The workshop was modeled after the outstanding ARRA broadband workshops that have been held across the country hosted jointly by USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Like those workshops, the Jackson event spotlighted USDA broadband funds available through the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).

The workshop was a huge hit and underscored State Director George’s concentration on outreach in promoting USDA Rural Development programs and opportunities for rural Mississippi. The workshop was also attended by staff members for a number of Mississippi’s U.S. Congressional delegation, one of whom (a staff member for a U.S. Senator) remarked as she was leaving: “This event today was just great, and so informative. It is precisely what we need to get the word out about this opportunity. It is great to see the agency doing this kind of outreach event, because it will really help a lot of Mississippians.”

“USDA Rural Development has too many good programs to just keep them to ourselves,” said State Director George. “The more we spread the word, the more rural Mississippians will benefit. And thus, our work will always begin with outreach, including such events as this one. Regarding Recovery Act opportunities, this outreach is doubly important, as that window of opportunity will close later this year.”

State Director George would also like to commend her staff,  including Rural Community Programs Director Bettye Oliver, and Linda Stovall, Janis Nolan, Nicole Barnes, Patricia McDowell, and Nita Stringer on the program staff, for their professional work in putting the workshop together.

From left: Randy Jenkins, ARRA General Field Accountant with USDA RD in Washington, DC; USDA RD Mississippi State Director Trina N. George; and David J. Villano, USDA Assistant Administrator for Telecommunications Programs.
From left to right: Randy Jenkins, ARRA General Field Accountant with USDA RD in Washington, DC; USDA RD Mississippi State Director Trina N. George; and David J. Villano, USDA Assistant Administrator for Telecommunications Programs.

Over 50 potential applicants came to Jackson, MS to hear from the experts about the application process for Recovery Act broadband funds.Over 50 potential applicants came to Jackson, MS to hear from the experts about the application process for Recovery Act broadband funds.

Written by Ken Stribling, USDA Rural Development-Mississippi

New School Building in Dillon, South Carolina on the Drawing Board Thanks to a 15 year old Student’s Letter to President Obama

When 15 year Ty’Sheoma Bethea, formerly a student in Dillon, South Carolina, wrote to President Obama about the condition of her school, It set off a chain of events that led, last Friday, to a celebration in Dillon marking the unveiling of plans for a new J.V. Martin Junior High School.  A combination of loans and grants from USDA Rural Development will enable the district to replace the old school.

It was my privilege to accompany Vernita F. Dore, Rural Development State Director for South Carolina to the celebration. In her remarks she said, “This is a wonderful day in Dillon, South Carolina. This is a wonderful day all across America.” Looking directly at Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the student who wrote to President Obama concerning the conditions at her school, Dore said, “When you wrote your letter to the President, you were fired up. When the President read your letter, he was fired up, and Rural Development, Dillon County, Darryl Rosser, and people all across America were fired up about education in Dillon, South Carolina, and that’s why we are here today. We’re all fired up!” The crowd erupted in applause.

Dore went on to say, “The Recovery Act signed by President Obama more than a year ago made this funding possible and demonstrates the Obama Administration’s goal to create jobs and improve education for rural America. Because of the stimulus money, Rural Development was able to provide $39.5 million for Dillon County Schools.”
Among those on hand were Mr. Rosser, CEO of the Chicago-based classroom furniture supplier that provided the furniture to give the school a makeover last year, and Dillon County School Board Chairman Richard Schafer.

Former Dillon School student Ty'Sheoma Bethea, (L) who wrote a letter about the condition of her school to  President Obama, stands with Rural Development South Carolina State Director Vernita Dore next to a drawing of a new school building funded with Recovery Act loan and grant funds provided through USDA.

Former Dillon School student Ty'Sheoma Bethea, (L) who wrote a letter about the condition of her school to President Obama, stands with Rural Development South Carolina State Director Vernita Dore next to a drawing of a new school building funded with Recovery Act loan and grant funds provided through USDA.

Darryl Rosser, CEO of the Chicago furniture company that supplied new furniture for the J.V. Martin Junior High School, Dillon County school board chairman Richard Schafer and Ty'Sheoma Bethea unveil plans for the new school funded by USDA Rural Development.

Left to right: Darryl Rosser, CEO of the Chicago furniture company that supplied new furniture for the J.V. Martin Junior High School, Dillon County school board chairman Richard Schafer and Ty'Sheoma Bethea unveil plans for the new school funded by USDA Rural Development.

Written by Marlous H. Black

USDA Rural Development-South Carolina

Fighting for Family Farmers at Farm Aid 2009

Family farmers from throughout the country descended into St. Louis over the weekend for the 24th annual Farm Aid Conference. Stars including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Mathews were on hand to shine a spotlight on the struggles that small- and mid-sized farmers face. Read more »