County votes to help expand broadband


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County has agreed to spend $100,000 to extend its broadband.
The request from SEEC was approved by ARPA—American Rescue Plan Act—Committee Wednesday and again by the Board of Supervisors Friday.
Funding for two other requests remains earmarked and on hold pending more information.
If they’re eventually funded, that will leave about $273,000 in unallocated ARPA monies.
SEEC Executive Director Julie Pacatte said Wednesday that the broadband funding will be part of efforts to serve underserved areas.
“There’s a lot of red on that map,” Ms. Pacatte said of red dots marking places with no broadband identified in part by the state’s Map My Broadband efforts.
Ms. Pacatte said she comes at broadband from the economic development angle as a way to attract “talent” that can work from home.
But it’s also critical for thinks like EMS, telemedicine, and education, she said.
According to the state, the county is considered about 94 percent covered.
That leaves 900-1,000 homes that aren’t served.
The ARPA money will go towards refreshing a 2015 Farr Technologies study that looked at what would be involved in building out the necessary broadband infrastructure, and updating a second report by NPD Analytics needed to apply for grants to actually do the build-out.
“Timing is of the essence,” when it comes to the grant applications, Ms. Pacatte said.
The SEEC request had the support of Schoharie Supervisor Alan Tavenner.
The state and federal governments “said they were going to fund this—and they did,” he said.
“I’ve always been a big believer that when the feds make this kind of money available, that’s probably the best time to do that.”
The projects with earmarked ARPA funds includes $570,600 for the county’s share of the Tri-County Landfill leachate project at the old MOSA—something that won’t move ahead without commitments and money from Otsego and Montgomery Counties.
Also, water and sewer improvements at the transfer station, approved for $600,000 from ARPA but work that came in at about $99,000 more than that and will be re-bid.