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Douglas County Commissioners met last Thursday for a regular meeting, transacting business as usual; however, no decisions were made.
Commissioners did meet with Heather Peugh, director of the West Plains District Office for Rep. Jo Ann Emerson; and Gene Oakley who is the deputy director for the MOBroadbandNow program in the State of Missouri.
MOBraodbandNow is the name of an initiative focused on bringing the broadband superhighway to rural Missouri. The impetus of the state program is to expedite availability of broadband services to rural communities who have not been offered services larger communities now enjoy.
In this area, $38 million has been earmarked for the project and according to Oakley, 1,380 miles of fiber optic cable will be installed in south central Missouri to make it happen.
Installation of the new line is scheduled to be completed in two years, with a maximum timeline of five-years. In Douglas County, Sho-Me power is the backbone of the cable installation, and their contracts are with the federal government. The project includes a total of 30 counties.
Oakley explained that 19 regional planning commissions are now in place to oversee the project, and in Douglas County, SCOGOG will serve as the team to oversee the project, assess needs and work with the county commissioners. The regional technology planning teams will report to the State of Missouri.
In other states where broadband has been advanced statistics show economic development has been enhanced.