In the group picture where the fiber is being connected from left to right: NoaNet Senior Executive Director of Infrastructure Strategy Chris Walker, LCPUD Commissioner Michael Kelly, USDA Washington State Director Helen Price Johnson, LCPUD Commissioner Ed Rothlin, LCPUD Information Systems and Telecommunications Manager Jeff Baine, Department of Commerce Assistant Director of Local Government Mark Barkely, Lewis County Broadband Action Team Member Frank Corbin, and LCPUD General Manager Chris Roden. Photo Credit: USDA Photo
Written and Published by Lewis County PUD For more information please contact: Daniel Hargrove, Public Relations Specialist, Lewis County PUD email@example.com
Chehalis, WA (October 14, 2022) – The Lewis County PUD (PUD) is pleased to announce the beginning of the Digital Access To All (DATA) plan with the construction of a publicly owned, open-access, rural broadband network.
The DATA plan includes 17 service zones which encompass all of Lewis County and would serve approximately 29,000 locations. The estimated cost for the entire plan, which includes fiber-to-the-premises network infrastructure, is more than $104 million.
The start of this plan opens with a project that will bring fiber to the Boistfort Valley and the Rainbow Falls State Park with construction to begin this month.
To celebrate this occasion, the PUD hosted a Fiber Connection Ceremony on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022, at the Main Street Substation in Chehalis, WA.
“This is an exciting time for the PUD and our community as we begin the next phase of constructing our community-owned broadband network,” said PUD General Manager Chris Roden. “We are incredibly grateful to all our partners who are helping make this project a reality.”
The USDA’s $3 million dollar grant will allow the construction of the broadband infrastructure from Chehalis to the Boistfort Valley. This will provide the backbone network that will give access to nearly 1,200 residences. Additionally, the Washington State Public Works Board’s Broadband Program provided support with $502,862 to extend the network west toward Pe Ell to Rainbow Falls State Park.
“We’re solving broadband for people that have really no broadband and no way of defending themselves because of no reporting mechanisms,” said NoaNet Senior Executive Director of Infrastructure Strategy Chris Walker. “So, what an incredible impact this project is going to have on the local community.”
Thanks to the grant award made possible by USDA Rural Development Community Connect Grant, as well as additional funding from the Washington State Public Works Board, two communities in western Lewis County will soon see high-speed internet directly to their homes.
“This is one of those opportunities to really lift up the rural areas of Lewis County,” said USDA Washington State Director Helen Price Johnson. “We learned that our students need to have access to the internet to be able to write their papers at home… we need it for our seniors to be able to access telehealth, we need it for our commerce, we need it for our small businesses to be able to thrive.”
“This is a great investment and the coordination between state, federal, and local partnerships is a great example for the rest of the state to follow when we are sitting on the edge of this great opportunity,” added Price Johnson, who on behalf of USDA Rural Development, presented the PUD with a Partnership Award of Excellence at the Fiber Connection Ceremony.
The PUD would like to thank the community for taking surveys and acknowledging that there was a problem that needed to be corrected. The PUD would also like to thank all our partners and supporters in this project including:
- Washington State Public Works Board
- Lewis County Broadband Action Team
- Learn Design Apply Inc.
- Lewis County
The fiber connection ceremony marks the start of construction for the broader community efforts to enable high-speed internet access to all of Lewis County. The PUD is actively seeking funding and has completed a shovel-ready design with cost estimates to build out the county-wide broadband network to make digital access to all a reality in Lewis County.
“The PUD has developed designs for broadband deployments throughout the PUD’s service territory,” said PUD Information Systems and Telecommunications Manager Jeff Baine. “We know many other communities in Lewis County still need access to broadband, and we’re committed to acquiring the grant funds to make digital access to all a reality.”
About Lewis County PUD
Lewis County PUD is a community-owned, locally governed utility providing power services and telecommunications infrastructure to approximately 33,000 customers throughout most of Lewis County and adjacent communities.