It was exciting to have Congressman Rick Boucher, 9th District of Virginia and the Deputy Administrator for USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities programs, Jessica Zufolo join me last week in Hurley, Virginia for an awards ceremony. The event highlighted the funding of three Virginia rural community broadband projects and the 60th anniversary of the involvement of USDA in providing Telecommunication infrastructure improvements to rural America.
I am proud to say that Southwest Virginia will be receiving Community Connect Grants totaling over $2.4 million dollars that will help purchase and install high speed internet equipment to the rural communities of Hurley, Carbo and Grant. Working with the Rural Utilities Service Virginia Field Representative Richard Jenkins; Paul Gearheart from Inter Mountain Cable, Michael Maynard from the Wired Road Authority and Thomas Kurien from Almega Cable were successful in their pursuit of this USDA Funding. Certificates of Appreciation were provided to each cable service at the ceremony. As a result of this assistance, cable customers in these three areas will soon have high speed internet service available, improving educational and business opportunities.
Starting with a farm family receiving its first in home telephone in the 1950’s, to the rural household now being able to run an international business from a home office, USDA continues to play an important role in bringing new modern telecom services to rural Virginia.
Virginia has been very successful over the years in delivering new technology to rural areas of the state. Since the inception of the programs, over $10 million dollars has been provided in our State for Distance Learning and Community Connect Grants. Other key achievements in Virginia include the Telemedicine System currently being operated by the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. This state-of-the-art system allows medical specialists at the UVA Medical Center to perform detailed medical examinations of patients in over 20 rural clinics mainly in remote Southwest Virginia. Without this service, these patients would have to travel for many hours over challenging roads to obtain advanced medical care.
By Ellen M. Davis, Virginia State Director, USDA Rural Development