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Schuylkill Commissioners Sitting on Their Hands with the Broadband Project

Time’s up, guys!

broadband project carrot stick schuylkill county

This week, Cass and Reilly townships in Schuylkill County received more than $1.7 million to expand access to broadband internet among their residents.

It’s a good thing they struck out on their own to get funding to improve high-speed connections in their communities. Because if they waited around for the County government to help, they’d probably be waiting for a while.

Schuylkill County Government Failing to Deliver on Broadband Project

The issue of unserved and underserved residents locally who don’t have access to high-speed internet became very apparent in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. Many Schuylkill County families had to find other arrangements to get their students connected to their school classes.

But that’s about when the County government became aware of the problem. In reality, access to a modern internet connection has been a challenge for years in Schuylkill County. Literally, since the dawn of the internet.

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And for most, that situation hasn’t improved in the last 2 years. There are still too many Schuylkill County residents who don’t even have the option to buy high-speed internet.

Cass and Reilly townships applied for grants from a fund created by the State Legislature in 2021, tapping from the American Rescue Plan money Harrisburg got from the federal government.

Schuylkill County got its own American Rescue Plan money – more than $26 million, in fact – and it also received money from the CARES Act back in 2020 (another nearly $13 million). While the people at the Courthouse love to tell the story on how the rules for spending that windfall kept changing, the one thing that never changed in those rules is its ability to be spent on expanding access to broadband internet.

But since 2020, the County Commissioners have sat on their hands when it comes to bringing broadband access to more locals.

Instead, the County focused on its own needs when it came to spending that money. The Commissioners have talked about the idea of some “broadband project” but haven’t said one word about it other than it’s something they’re considering.

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Well, the time for considerations are over. The time to get this alleged project in front of the public has expired. It’s not a good look when municipalities that have identified this issue as a real need have to go out on their own to get it done.

There’s no need for it to have taken this long to launch this project. Some counties in Pennsylvania were able to get residents broadband access before the end of 2020. But here we are, nearly halfway through 2022 and the “broadband project” continues to be some demented carrot the Commissioners keep dangling in front of the public.

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