Commission conditionally awards ARPA funds for broadband expansion
At its July 17 meeting, the Franklin County Commission voted to move forward with its plan to use ARPA funds for broadband expansion by conditionally approving an award to Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (TEC), which provides broadband through its wholly owned subsidiary Freedom Fiber.
In May, the Franklin County Commission voted to implement a grant application process for Internet service providers seeking to use the county’s ARPA funds to install broadband to priority areas designated in the application.
The grant application period closed on June 30, at which time TEC was the only applicant. TEC’s application was evaluated by a team of county officials and staff, which unanimously determined that they possessed the requisite qualifications and recommended that the Commission move forward in discussions with TEC to refine its project design and budget plans for the construction of broadband fiber optic infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the county designated as priority areas in the grant application.
“Affordable and reliable broadband service is the key to economic growth in our community,” explained Franklin County Commission chair, Probate Judge Barry Moore. “That is why our commission has identified expansion as the number one priority of our ARPA dollars.
We look forward to working with TEC to come up with solutions that will provide this beneficial infrastructure to Franklin County citizens.” Britton Lightsey, CEO of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, shared the company’s enthusiasm for the project.
“We thank the Franklin County Commission for the opportunity to apply for ARPA funding to increase broadband service across the county,” said Lightsey. “We are pleased to work with them to meet the needs of unserved and underserved populations where broadband access is needed.”
Franklin County and every county and city receiving ARPA funds have until Dec. 31, 2024, to obligate the funds, and until Dec. 31, 2026, to complete the projects. For more information, contact Leah Mansell, County Administrator at 256-332-8850.