No federal broadband funding for county

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 2/5/20

HERMANN — A $60-million federal appropriation to fund broadband services in rural Missouri will not include Gasconade County.

Northern District Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann, made the …

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No federal broadband funding for county

Posted

HERMANN — A $60-million federal appropriation to fund broadband services in rural Missouri will not include Gasconade County.

Northern District Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann, made the disappointing announcement Thursday morning after checking the particulars of a letter from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri’s senior senator, informing county officials of the funding.

“I guess we’re just not rural enough,” Holland quipped.

Internet availability in the farthest reaches of Gasconade County essentially is non-existent.

However, Internet service to the Courthouse is about to improve. Callabyte was scheduled to be at the Courthouse Friday to begin wiring the various offices with high-speed service made available by a single provider. Callabyte is an Internet service offered through Callaway Electric Cooperative and will provide service that is now provided by several different companies to the various departments of county government.

There will be a long-term cost savings resulting from the move, but as County Clerk Lesa Lietzow noted there will continued payments for at least a while to the various providers until new email addresses are set up and all service is switched to Callabyte. How long that takes could prove costly  to the offices facing an already-tight operating budget in 2020.

“We can’t afford to keep paying two bills” for Internet services, the county clerk told the Commission.

In other matters at its weekly session, the Commission formally put out a call for any residents interested in serving on several boards and commissions. County officials continue to search for a physician willing to serve on the county’s Mental Health Board, as well fill vacancies on the Meramec Regional Development Corporation and the county's Industrial Development Authority.

Also, a vacancy has occurred on the Gasconade County Health Department Board of Trustees. Pat Smith of Mt. Sterling has left the 5-member board for personal reasons. Her absence will make it somewhat more difficult for the health agency panel to conduct business at  its monthly sessions. At least three members are needed for a quorum and this month's board meeting had only three members present.

Southern District Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore, R-Owensville, said finding people to serve is an on-going effort. “It’s hard to find people,” he said.

Along those lines, Lairmore announced that Hermann City Administrator Mark Wallace has agreed to serve another term as a Gasconade County representative on the Gasconade Valley Enterprize Zone Committee. Lairmore chairs that panel.

The Commission also Thursday signed documents with Peoples Savings Bank that stretches out the repayment of the loan made two years ago to finance the new Courthouse roof. Renegotiating the repayment period for another year will save the county a substantial amount of money — a key factor in being able to balance this year’s operating budget. The county has about $293,000 left to repay and the reworked agreement will  have the county paying $18,310 plus interest each quarter this year.

At tomorrow morning’s session in Owensville, Lydia Nipper of the Missouri University Extension Council is scheduled to deliver that agency’s annual report to the Commission. That meeting is set in Owensville City Hall at 8:30 a.m.

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