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The Center for Rural Development announces broadband grant to Knox County through its Move the Needle program

The Center for Rural Development is pleased to announce the very first grant award as part of its Move the Needle program to Knox County.  The grant, totaling $99,840.00, will be used to purchase ancillary equipment for a broadband advancement project in the Highway 1527 area of the Baily Switch Community.

The project consists of approximately 9.6 miles of roadway, including Highway 1527 and connecting roads.  As many as 202 residences and 4 businesses will be impacted.  After seeking bids, the county awarded the project to Onpoint Broadband, a local internet service provider from Corbin.

Derek Eubanks, manager of Onpoint, is looking forward to work beginning.  “We were excited the county chose Onpoint to carry out the project.  We believe we’re able to provide excellent internet service at an affordable price, and look forward to serving this community.”  Eubanks expects work on the project to begin soon.

Mike Mitchell, Knox County Judge Executive, also expressed his enthusiasm about being able to bring broadband access to a much underserved area of Knox County.  “One of our goals for Knox County is to expand broadband access.  Ultimately we want to see broadband made available to everyone in the county who wants it.  This is another piece of the puzzle in making that happen,” said Judge Mitchell.  The entire project is estimated to cost $249,600, with the balance of the funding being provided by Onpoint Broadband.

Knox County is taking advantage of a grant program through The Center for Rural Development to help fund the undertaking.  The program, known as Move the Needle, was created when the COVID-19 pandemic further revealed the need for robust, reliable broadband for everyone throughout the commonwealth, and especially in The Center’s 45-county service area.

As the pandemic caused workers and students to be sent home, it became more and more apparent that many are faced with the reality of living in an area that is highly underserved, meaning they are forced to contend with very slow internet speeds, or in a community or area completely unserved, meaning they have no internet connection at all.

The Center, while already concerned with advancing broadband throughout its region by helping to fund feasibility and engineering studies for Eastern Kentucky counties, and state-wide with its involvement in the KentuckyWired Network, felt it was critical to create a program to assist in small, but impactful projects that could benefit several hundred households and/or businesses in a community, and could be completed relatively quickly.

“This program is another step toward making broadband available to everyone in The Center’s service area,” says Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center.  “We are pleased to be able to assist Knox County in making this first project a reality. Our goal with the Move the Needle program is to fund similar projects in as many of our 45 counties as possible.”  The Center utilizes funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to provide grants for the advancement of broadband connectivity.

For more information concerning The Center’s Move the Needle program, please contact Richard Taylor or Scott Surber at 606-677-6000.