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Rowan County initiates countywide broadband expansion

November 19, 2021
MOREHEAD, KY –  More than 8,200 Rowan County residents are expected to have high-speed fiber internet access by the end of the year.  Local and state government officials, along with community leaders, company officials and students gathered at Rowan County Middle School as Rowan County Judge Executive Harry Clark made the announcement.  “When I was growing up, broadband wasn’t even a word yet. We were still pretty excited by electricity. Today, it’s something that affects the life of every child in Rowan County,” said the judge.

In a partnership with Kinetic by Windstream, Rowan County hopes to provide fiber-based high speed broadband access to essentially the entire county.  After the deployment to the initial 8,200 residents, the county hopes to see fiber to the home service offered to an additional 4,169 homes, contingent on receiving grant funding from the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund.

Rocky Adkins, senior advisor to Governor Andy Beshear was also on hand for the announcement.  “Today is an exciting day for the Rowan County community, the Eastern Kentucky region, and the Commonwealth as a whole,” said Adkins. “Reliable, high-speed broadband access plays a pivotal role in connecting rural Kentuckians to education, economic development, telehealth, and many other opportunities, and this ambitious project will be transformative for local students, families, and businesses.”

While local and state officials shared their excitement about the day, nine students from Rowan Middle School (Hattie Litton, Conan Stewart, Jeremy Endicott, Eliza McGillicuddy, Caden Collins, Gwenna Crowder, Ava Carver, Tivis Sheehan and Meredith Crowder) were also given time to explain how important the announcement was for them.  Each took a turn at the podium and the impact from the lack of adequate internet access due to the COVID-19 pandemic was apparent.  They all indicated how the pandemic had made school from home difficult in the previous year.  Many of them also shared how their parents struggled to work from home without adequate internet.

During the event, the judge also thanked Lonnie Lawson and other representatives from The Center for Rural Development for attending and for The Center’s role in the project.  Through grant funding for a broadband feasibility study from The Center’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP), Rowan County took some of the initial steps necessary to lay the groundwork that culminated in the moment.  The Center also provided technical assistance as the county began its search for a partner to make county-wide fiber internet a reality.  “The Center is proud to have been a part of seeing this incredible day happen for Rowan County,” said Lawson, president and CEO of The Center.  “It’s also fitting that the announcement is taking place at Rowan Middle School.  It’s students and their families like these here today that we as leaders should make a part of our focus when we discuss the need for improved broadband infrastructure.”

For more information concerning The Center’s Youth or Technology Programs please call 606-677-6000.