Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission To Seek High-Speed Internet Grant

The Brooke County Commission is aiding efforts to bring high-speed internet service to the area.

Commissioners supported Tuesday a grant application, on its behalf by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, for a federal grant to determine areas lacking internet access.

Mark Henne, chairman of the Brooke-Hancock Development Council — BHJ’s economic development arm in West Virginia — said the grant will require no local match and would support a study that also would explore potential funding avenues for unserved or underserved areas.

Henne said the Hancock County Commission also will be asked to support the application and the council may partner with Ohio County officials who are seeking their own grant.

County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said internet access has been pursued in the past but large broadband providers weren’t interested in serving the county because of the cost involved.

Henne said there now are smaller companies that have expressed interest and there may be federal funding to help them.

Commissioners agreed with Henne’s statement that internet access is crucial to local economic development.

In other matters, commissioners said they would advertise for the replacement of the county courthouse’s interior and exterior lights and ceiling tiles.

County Commissioner Stacey Wise said the board has secured a $100,000 grant from the state Courthouse Facilities Improvement Council for the project. The grant requires a 20 percent match from the county.

Wise said fixtures for the fluorescent lights are no longer available. She said the new LED lights will be more energy efficient.

Commissioners have scheduled a mandatory pre-bid meeting for Sept. 12, and the deadline for bids for Sept. 18.

They also announced they will accept letters of interest in seats on the county museum board and the solid waste authority. Letters of interest may be submitted within the next two weeks to the office of County Clerk Sylvia Benzo.

The solid waste board was forced to cancel Tuesday’s regular meeting because it lacked a quorum. In addition to a seat that has been vacant for several months, the board lost two members with the recent deaths of Santo Santoro and Bob DiCiccio. The board itself has struggled with financial problems that forced it to move bins for paper, cardboard, plastics and aluminum and other metal cans from several public places to its recycling center on Mac Barnes Drive in Beech Bottom.

The center also has stopped accepting old tires, pending an arrangement with the state Department of Environmental Protection, and electronics, which Wise said the board had been forced to take to a landfill, assuming dumping costs, instead of a recycler.

She said anyone with a strong desire to continue the recycling program should consider serving on the board.

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