Pendleton County Library and school division teaming up to help in the battle for broadband

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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PENDLETON COUNTY, W.Va. (WHSV) - Over the summer officials in Pendleton County were looking to take advantage of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund, authorized by the American Rescue Plan, to increase broadband internet around the county.

Unfortunately, the county did not receive funding but with the second round of money going out, members in the community are asking for your help.

“We don’t have internet,” Walter Pitsenberger, a resident of Pendleton County said, as he was using the computer at the county library on Wednesday.

Pitsenberger says he is in a similar situation like many other households around the county where he can’t get internet.

He says where he lives near Sugar Grove, there is only one internet service provider and often times gets kicked off the web for a service he pays for.

Pitsenberger says rather than gambling when he could be on or off he and his wife have just remained unplugged at home and use the library as a resource to connect online.

“Because we’re in West Virginia we were at the bottom of the list,” Pitsenberger said. “Whenever they wanted to cut us off and put somebody else on they did and we complained to the supplier and essentially they said that’s tough bananas.”

The library and county school division are forming a consortium to try and find another provider to try and speed things up for residents by applying for the second round of federal dollars.

“To qualify, the recipients have to have a child in the home or be a staff member a part of the school system or be a library patron,” J.P. Mowery with Pendleton County Schools said. “So that’s where it comes in being the consortium we can target a larger audience and increase our chances of getting the award.”

Money from this fund can be used to pay for things like laptops, hotspots, and broadband connectivity purchases. Mowery says this is why it’s important that in the coming weeks the community fill out surveys being handed out door to door in certain areas and sent home with students.

“We need the community’s help in gathering that data and someone from the group will be contacting them,” Mowery said.

The data collected will help the county in receiving the grant funding. The application window will open beginning Sept. 28.

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