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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

KwiKom wins county grant for broadband expansion

The Linn County Commission on Monday approved a proposal by KwiKom to install fiber optic cable from Parker south the Blue Mound. (file photo)

MOUND CITY – The Linn County Commissioners on Monday, June 6, awarded $630,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to two companies proposing to install fiber optic broadband service to the west side of Linn County,

Iola-based KwiKom was awarded $580,000 for bringing service from Greeley to Parker and then on south to Goodrich, Centerville and Blue Mound. While this service will not reach all rural residences, it is a backbone that can be expanded if and when more funds become available.

According to KwiKom’s proposal, the company plans to offer service to 399 residences from Parker to Blue Mound.

Later in the meeting, KwiKom Communication Operations Manager Eric Vogel thanked the commissioners for giving them the opportunity to get Internet service to as many people as possible.

When asked by Commission Chair Jim Johnson when they would complete the project, Vogel said that he hoped to get to Parker by the end of the year and finish the project in less than two years.

The other $50,000 was awarded to La Cygne-based Peoples Telecommunication to deliver service to about 12 rural residences southeast of Parker. Peoples had already brought service to that area to install a tower for a residence in that area and had picked up some customers along the way.

Peoples had put in a proposal for $418,635 that would have made about 150 connections on the way to Parker and in Parker. Since it was an 80/20 match, the county would have been paying $334,900 for those connections.

After discussion among the commissioners, Commissioner Rick James said that his biggest concern on the proposals is the amount of people and coverage the county gets was the amount coverage the county gets.

He told Jim McAtee of Peoples that KwiKom was offering to extend service Centerville and Blue Mound also. James said that for him, going with KwiKom’s proposal meant bringing service to more households in the county.He said that the intent of the ARPA funds was to reach the people who slower Internet service or no service at all.

After the motion, James asked Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower about other applicants for the ARPA money. She said that several water districts and cities had asked for applications, as well as Southeast Kansas Mental Health, and Jesse Willard for the nursing home.

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