County funding could help pave way for improved internet access in rural townships

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

Douglas County leaders will decide this week whether to contribute toward a local internet provider’s bid at improving broadband internet access in two rural areas of the county.

Internet provider Midco is asking the Douglas County Commission to provide $5,000 in support of a grant proposal to the State Office of Broadband Development’s Capital Projects Fund Program. The commission will decide whether to do so at its meeting Wednesday.

The intent of the program is to improve broadband availability to unserved and underserved areas of the state. According to a letter from Midco, the reason the company is seeking county support is because the Office of Broadband Development’s scoring rubric for grant projects prioritizes projects that demonstrate a partnership with local governments.

In Douglas County, Midco’s project would aim to deploy fiber broadband in Kanwaka Township west of Lawrence and Palmyra Township to the south. In total, the project would affect 176 homes and businesses in those areas. Along with the $5,000 from the county, Midco is requesting $1.3 million in grant funds from the state to pair with the company’s own investment of $590,000.

In other business, the commission will:

• During an executive session, consult with the Douglas County counselor regarding “matters that would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship.” It’s unclear based on the meeting agenda whether the commission will take any action after returning from executive session.

• Review the findings of a fence dispute between two brothers who each own half of a property in rural Eudora Township, southeast of Lawrence. Kansas statute holds that in the event of a disagreement involving building, maintaining or repairing a fence between neighboring properties, county commissioners will appoint a fence viewer to help resolve the dispute.

Wednesday’s business meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. The meeting will also be available by Zoom. For meeting information, visit the county’s website: dgcoks.org/commissionmeetings.

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