Broadband survey is important for Lewis County

The survey may be taken online. A printable version may be found below.

Lewis County residents are urged to complete a survey seeking information that will help move Lewis County forward with a broadband plan.

The survey is available online and is being mailed to Lewis County households along with utility bills.

Surveys will also be sent home with students in the Lewis County School District and distributed through other means.

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel says the survey has been put together to collect information about the current status of internet access across the county as well as what immediate and long-range needs are.

“The data we collect will be used to identify the areas in our county that lack access to affordable, high-speed internet service and to find ways to make that access more readily available to our citizens,” said Ruckel.

Lewis County residents who have internet access are urged to take the online version of the survey.

Paper surveys will be readily available through the end of the year and ask 30 questions aimed at collecting needed data in helping to determine the next steps in improving broadband access.

The online surveys contain more questions and are more specific depending on the survey(s) you choose to take.

“It is extremely important to get as many of our residents as possible to take this survey to help make the data as complete and accurate as possible,” Ruckel said.

“I urge all Lewis County residents to visit the website, or complete a paper survey, and help us to move our county ahead,” he added.

The online survey may be found at https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/lewis-county/
Online survey-takers may complete more than one survey to include information on their residence, a business they own, or place of employment. (The online survey is compatible with most operating systems. A printable version may be found below.)

Paper surveys may be returned to the judge executive’s office in the Lewis County Courthouse or returned by mail. Completed surveys may also be returned to schools and may also be dropped off at the Vanceburg and Tollesboro post offices.

Mailed surveys must be postmarked by January 17, 2020.

Ruckel said the survey is one of the steps in developing a broadband plan for the county.

Lewis County was awarded a $76,000 grant earlier this year under the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Lewis County will contribute $19,000 in matching funds for a total project amount of $95,000.

“We are working proactively to create better broadband service in Lewis County to benefit existing businesses and citizens as well as attracting new business with better and more reliable service,” Ruckel said.

The study/plan will analyze what broadband assets and resources now exist, what community needs are in regards to broadband for economic growth, and how to approach implementing such broadband action in the future.

The plan will be developed by the local broadband committee and Connected Nation, the company chosen to help collect data and put together the plan.

“We will use this plan to implement the appropriate broadband infrastructure in phased construction into the county to spur economic development,” Ruckel said

The feasibility side of the county’s plan will help to assess what broadband exists in the county and where; and what entities reside in the county and what their specific needs are (such as where is industry located, schools, business, and what type of broadband they have or may need).

Ruckel compared the strategic plan side to a roadmap to help the local committee know what the most pertinent needs are and where, as well as what types of broadband they need for each circumstance (fiber, DSL, Wi-Fi).

This strategic plan will help the county as they search for funding to implement the plan in phases as it’s been identified through the study/plan.

Members of the Broadband Committee include Ruckel, Benjamin Harrison, Jamie Weddington, Bill Tom Stone, and Dennis Brown.

Ruckel said committee members have been working closely with Chip Spann and Chris McGovern with Connected Nation, the firm chosen to develop the county plan.

Ruckel credited Amy Kennedy and Kristi Dodge with the Buffalo Trace Area Development District for their assistance in applying for and helping to secure the grant funding.

The POWER Initiative supports efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities by cultivating economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing or new industries, and attracting new sources of investment.

Click HERE to download a printable survey. Paper copies are also available at the Judge Executive’s Office in the Lewis County Courthouse and at The Lewis County Herald.

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