County to host meeting on broadband study

LOCK HAVEN — Improved broadband coverage is likely coming to Clinton County.

Clinton County is included in a four-county study sponsored by SEDA-COG, to identify gaps and issues in rural broadband coverage.

The point of the study is to gather clear, specific data on where the gaps are, what specifically needs improvement, and how to meet those needs, according to Clinton County Planning Director Katherine de Silva.

De Silva announced that there will be a stakeholders meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 11, in the second-floor meeting room of the Piper Building.

Her announcement came during the county commissioners’ Monday work session, which was held in the same room.

Commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz said that the county has received a “very extensive” 126-page state-wide broadband study for rural areas.

“SEDA-COG is conducting the four-county study, which is a much more detailed report. That’s a bit different, but we will use the data collected in that study as well,” de Silva explained.

SEDA-COG was awarded a $40,000 grant from The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) last year for this feasibility study of broadband access in Northumberland, Union, Lycoming and Clinton counties.

According to the ARC, the study will assess current public and private broadband needs and review existing infrastructure. With this data, they say, three communities in each county found to likely benefit the most from increased broadband access will receive additional attention.

In Clinton County, that process is starting now.

“The point of this broadband meeting is to explain our intentions and procedures to local leaders and give them a chance to give input up front. Afterward, we will circulate a survey (online and paper versions) for all residents to give input. There will be a lot of publicity around that. This meeting is just for the local leaders,” de Silva said.

Others expected at the meeting are SEDA-COG Principal IT Specialist Scott Kramer and Jack Maytum, senior design broadband analyst from Design Nine Inc.

Topics to be discussed include current broadband status in Clinton County, broadband needs in Clinton County for the next 10 years, broadband network costs and sources of funding, broadband network methods of ownerships, installation and management and what to expect from the broadband feasibility study.

Expected to last about 45 minutes, the meeting will end with questions and next steps.

Also at Monday’s meeting, de Silva offered the commissioners an update from PA Wilds, an outdoor recreation destination administration.

She described the organization as a “three-legged stool,” consisting of the PA Wilds Center, the planning team and the marketing team.

There is a “shared leadership” concept in the planning team, she said, with Jeremy Morey, of McKean County, as chairman, de Silva as vice-chairman, and Will Hunt, of Potter County, as treasurer.

“Not sticking one person with all the work, it’s a team effort,” de Silva said.

The organization works on project development as far as bicycle tourism, outdoor recreational areas and trail development.