[Excerpt from "$75M deal 'decades' in the works" published in the Bedford Gazette, Feb. 9th, 2021]
In separate action, the commissioners took another step forward with the county’s broadband initiatives during the meeting.
The commissioners approved an agreement with Mission Critical Partners (MCP) to oversee the installation of four new telecommunications towers in the southeastern region of the county.
The county last year was awarded a $745,000 grand from the Appalachian Regional Commission to build four new towers in the southwestern portion of the county. The grant requires a 50% county match.
Commissioner Deb Baughman said MCP has the experience needed to lead the process. “They’ve been very active with the 911 towers, and they have a lot of experience acquiring sites,” she said after the meeting.
Baughman said the county is still working out the location of the new towers. “We still have to acquire the ground for it,” she said. “The ground to be optimal for the towers so the most people can have access to broadband.”
The county earlier this year approved a $2.3 million broadband spending plan that outlines much of the proposed work moving forward.
Crowsnest Broadband of Woodbury is currently installing equipment on existing towers in the county as part of the first phase of development.
The construction of four new towers will mark the second phase.
Baughman said the county is also working with Alleghenies Broadband Inc. to apply for a $5 million grant through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that would provide six new towers in underserved areas of the county.
“We’re really crossing our fingers, and we do seem to be in the running for that,” Baughman said.
That proposed effort is part of a proposed $20 million project for ABI in its region.