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English to hold public hearing on broadband

February 12, 2020
The Town of English will have a public hearing next Wednesday to receive public comment about the recently-completed broadband study. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall, located at 201 S. Indiana Ave.

Representatives from the consulting firm Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group will present their findings and recommendations at the hearing.

This is a separate study from the one conducted last fall by the Purdue Center for Regional Development. That study, in which 4,007 households completed surveys, found that Crawford County is a virtual "digital desert" in which the vast majority of households do not have access to high-speed, reliable internet service.

The survey conducted by the Town of English covered the northern portion of the county and included both Marengo and Milltown. That study was completed through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs utilizing funds from a Federal Community Development Block Grant.

It was a competitive grant process, with only five out of 44 applications approved, said Mike Thissen, executive director of the Crawford County Economic Development Corp. He said OCRA specifically wanted pilot communities with low- to moderate-income levels for these studies.

English was selected, and Milltown and Marengo cooperated by assisting with funding the local match requirement. Thissen said each of the towns involved contributed $1,000 with the EDC covering the remainder of the $5,500 local match.

"This is a good example of community capacity building," he said.

This study was underway prior to the state designating funding for broadband expansion. Crawford County applied for a state grant to expand broadband service but was not one of the 11 projects selected. There were 64 applicants for the first round of Next Level Broadband funds. A total of $22.1 million was awarded for those 11 infrastructure projects.

Thissen said broadband access is vital to the county's economic development and he is committed to pursuing expansion efforts.

The study undertaken by the Town of English is more proof of the local need.

"This dovetails quite nicely with the other study to convince the state we need broadband," he said.

For additional information concerning the public hearing or the completed study, call Mike Benham, president of the English Town Council, at the town hall at 812-338-2654.

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