Branch County will rush to apply for USDA internet construction grants

Branch County Commissioners Tuesday authorized county Administrator Bud Norman and IT Director Matt Fosdick to prepare a USDA Reconnect or Community Connect broadband internet grant. 

Presented with the resolution just before the meeting, Commissioner Tom Matthew raised questions. Norman said he and Fosdick just learned of the grant requirements and needed commission action to meet the Feb 22 deadline. 

“If we are not successful, there are two more rounds,” Norman said. 

He said springing the resolution on the commission, that this was the last regular meeting before the deadline.

“We didn’t know until this afternoon. If we don’t get (the resolution passed) at this meeting, we will not be able to apply for the grant because it would be too short,” he said.

Norman said minimum grants are $100,000.

“The upper end of the grant is $25 million. That’s not the price of the project. We told you it would be somewhere around $45 million,” according to a preliminary study by Aspen Wireless. There is a 25% local match to the grants. 

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