Ralls County working to bring internet to 100% of homes

NEW LONDON, Mo. (WGEM) – Ralls County continues to make strides in making internet available for all residents.

Rhonda Thompson opened Little Steps Daycare in New London, Missouri, 11 years ago.

Thompson said not only do they use the internet to stream educational videos for their kids, they also need it for their operations.

“We have to have the internet for our food programs, for our signing in and out, our parents sign in and out on a tablet that is linked to the internet for the state to be able to see who is in care or who isn’t,” Thompson said.

Unlike Thompson, Many Ralls County residents did not have fiber until recently as the county is trying to bring fiber to every citizen.

Ninety-eight percent of homes in Ralls County now have access to fiber, and they only have 33 homes left to get it to 100 percent.

Ralls County Western District Commissioner John Lake said they saw a serious need for fiber access after people started working from home due to the pandemic.

“We really took it upon ourselves when all of the kids were home, all the people were home working from home, and so we went ahead and pushed through with that,” Lake said.

Presiding Commissioner Wiley Hibbard said the county is already seeing the benefits of internet access.

“Ralls County was the only rural county in Missouri to gain in population, and it has to do directly with our broadband capabilities,” Hibbard said.

The county used Cares Act and ARPA money to pay for the project. Hibbard said they are applying to a federal grant this June to try to save the remaining ARPA money for other projects.

The county hopes to reach the other 2 percent of homes this summer. Hibbard said they are waiting to see if they get that federal money before moving forward.

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