Funds awarded for broadband expansion

High-speed internet is on its way to Cherry Grove.

The funding is coming from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant — a “Community Connects Grant.”

The grant, totaling $637,500, was awarded to Youngsville Television Corporation, also known as Blue Fiber Corp.

A project description from the USDA states that the funds will enable construction of a “Fiber-to-the-Premises network to 240 homes and businesses within the Cherry Grove Community.”

Youngsville TV will “construct a broadband network to support service at levels up to 1 Gbps for each subscriber,” according to the USDA. “This broadband network will assist in economic opportunities, economic development and economic growth.”

The USDA estimates that 462 people will benefit by the project and that the total project cost is $750,000.

The project requires the blessing of the Allegheny National Forest for some right of way and utility pole issues along 200 feet of Paris Lane.

According to the ANF, the proposal would “permit fiber optic deployment on existing Warren Electric Cooperative utility poles on that stretch.

“The project will also traverse Austin Hill Road, Sorenson Road, and Cherry Grove /Minister Road,” according to a Facebook post by the ANF. “However, these sections on Forest Service System lands are within existing public road right-of-way and do not require permitting.”

The ANF said that Warren Electric Cooperative has “approved the use of their poles….”

This isn’t the only funding out there that could be utilized to expand broadband access in the county.

The county commissioners have held most of their $7.6 million in American Rescue Plan dollars close to the vest as discussion about possible broadband uses have been unfolding behind the scenes.

Youngsville Television Corp. was also the awardee of a Power Grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission in 2019 totaling nearly $1 million to “provide broadband services to unserved and under-served areas in the northwest region of Pennsylvania,” according to the grant award.

That project has not yet been built out.

That proposal aimed to use wired and wireless systems to provide service “in Crawford and Warren counties, partnering with the municipalities’ Volunteer Fire Departments,” according to the awards.

“The Volunteer Fire Departments will serve as anchor institutions, housing the equipment and hardware needed to support the regional wired and wireless broadband deployment.

The ARC took an optimistic view of what that project could mean for the future.

“Given the large potential impact broadband access may have on the economic development and revitalization of Northwest Pennsylvania, the project will open the doors to a variety of possibilities for diversifying the regional economy, which has suffered from the decline of the coal industry.”


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