Press-Republican

March 12, 2013

Jay, Wilmington welcome broadband funding

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

JAY — Officials welcomed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of more than a half million dollars in Connect New York Grants for two northern Essex County towns.

Of the $25 million allocated throughout the state, $557,000 will go to extend Internet broadband service to remote areas in the towns of Jay and Wilmington.

LONGTIME GOAL

Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas has been working on the broadband expansion since taking office in 2004.

“I couldn’t be more pleased (with) the governor’s announcement to bring broadband to AuSable Acres,” he said in a press release. “It is something that I have personally worked on for a very long time. It makes our area a more attractive place to live, work and play.”

The town’s application had broad community backing, he said.

“We received over 30 letters of support from residents when writing the application. I feel that their overwhelming support helped lead to a successful application.”

PARTNERED WITH CHARTER

The project is a private/public partnership with Charter Communications, the franchised cable-television operator for Jay and Wilmington.

The broadband expansion will include building 27 miles of extension to the Charter Communications hybrid fiberoptic-coax network to boost the unserved areas of AuSable Acres in the Town of Jay and Lenny Preston Road in the Town of Wilmington.

“We are very happy with being awarded the grant, which will help residents who telecommute and own small businesses in their homes,” Wilmington Town Supervisor Randy Preston said in the release.

LAST MILE

Douglas said the purpose of the grant is to bring “last-mile,” high-speed Internet access to everyone in the state. Last mile refers to remote areas that normally would not be served by cable TV and Internet.

Many times, that construction is not done due to the cost of providing the service, he said.

“However, recent initiatives by the state to improve the economy in rural areas has recognized the importance of bringing broadband to these communities and leveling the playing field,” Douglas said.

TEAM EFFORT

Essex County Community Resources Director Michael Mascarenas worked on the successful application for Jay and Wilmington.

“This was truly a team effort: Garrett Dague of the Community Resources Office and Tom Cohan of Charter Communications provided the lion’s share of the work in developing the application,” he said in the release.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome, and we appreciate the support we received from the North Country Economic Development Council.”

Charter Communications Vice President/General Manager Gregory A. Garabedian said his firm is ready to get started.

“A grant ... will enable us to extend our plant to a rural section of Essex County, AuSable Acres, and provide high-speed Internet service and digital cable television services to the residents and business in a previously unserved area.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com