Residents of Spring Hill hopeful for faster internet

SPRING HILL, Kan. — Residents of small, rural communities are glad to see President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill includes an investment into access to reliable, high-speed internet.

The legislation says broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care and to stay connected.

Under the plan, $65 billion will go toward ensuring every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.

The struggle to access reliable internet has been an issue for years in rural communities such as Spring Hill.

Matthe Imrie lives a few miles outside of town and said the past few years have proven just how vital internet access is while working from home.

“Work wise, just having a live meeting, it just drops repeatedly and it’s difficult to have a conversation about work when the other person can’t hear or see you,” Imrie said.

Imrie said he fully supports the Biden’s plan and believes internet access is about much more than just surfing the web.

“It’s an issue of equality and equity and if a third or half the country can’t access decent internet for work or personal reasons it’ll lead to a more unequal society,” Imrie said.

For many people in and around the Spring Hill area, the local Johnson County Library branch is a lifeline to broadband internet.

Nicole Schlagel, assistant branch manager, said in an average year before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 2,500 people come in to the library every year just for internet access.

“We have a lot of adults who will come in to do job applications, that’s a big one, social security things, all sort of things that people would do on any sort of device,” Schlagel said.

Imrie said although he loves living in a rural area, he is excited to be moving to Lawrence soon where the issue of internet access won’t be the same.

“Just because a person lives in the country doesn’t mean they should be penalized for lack of infrastructure,” Imrie said.

A spokesperson for the city of Spring Hill told KSHB 41 News it’s too early to comment on the bill as they are not certain what money the city might receive.

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