Broadband expansion planned for Northeast Missouri

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 4:21 AM CST
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MARION COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) - The state of Missouri is spending more than $48 million dollars to bring high speed internet to rural Northeast Missouri.

Mark Twain Communications Company got just over $5.1 million for two projects in Lewis and Shelby County.

Chariton Valley Communications Company got $43.4 million from the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program for 10 projects in Adair, Knox, Marion, Macon, Monroe, Shelby and Ralls County.

Chariton Valley Interim CEO and President Ryan Johnson said they haven’t gotten the money yet and they are still waiting for some contracts to be signed so can get started on a number of their projects.

“West of town, and north of Monroe City which would finish up the western part of Marion County and the southwest part of the County and then heading back to the west we were able to secure Hunnewell, Shelbina rural exchange, the Shelbyville exchange, and then the Clarence exchange,” Johnson said.

In total, he said they’ll be able to roll out 2,700 miles worth of fiber, connecting 4,300 people to high speed internet.

He said the next project they’re looking at is a two-year project between Paris and Hannibal.

Marion County Presiding Commissioner David Lomax said slow internet connections limit what local residents and businesses can do.

“There’s a small business owner that teaches for a university, that lives out here west of town and it’s made a great deal of difference for him and the teaching that he does online as well and of course any of your businesses, they are going to see a rather dramatic increase in speed of processing,” Lomax said.

He said the expansion also means great opportunities for telehealth as well, as it can connect more people far out in rural areas to doctors who can treat them. He said it’s a way to save time, and ensure help can be provided when needed.

For their next project, Johnson said they are hoping this summer to apply for a grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development to lay fiber near the Hannibal Port Authority near West Quincy.

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