MOUND CITY – Peoples Telecommunications General Manager Jennifer Leach and Supervisor Jim McAttee approached the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 19, for more American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to take broadband to more homes in the rural area around Parker.
La Cygne-based Peoples Telecom had received $50,000 from the county’s ARPA funds for taking broadband to several residences outside of Parker in June while Iola-based KwiKom had been give the larger grant of $558,000 to take broadband down the west side of Linn County.
Leach said that more people had approached them and they had the contract for eight more residences along the route to be put in. She said that these people were begging for the service and Peoples was shovel-ready. She requested at least another $30,000 to $50,000 for taking broadband to these homes.
“These people need it, a lot of them work from home,” said Leach. “Dunlop Farms owns a huge part of that area, and for what they do with their business, they need it.”
Leach explained that this was an additional 2.5 miles of main cable from the first request. This would add on an additional eight people.
In her request for funding, she pointed out that this is one of the main things that the ARPA funds were set up to be used for. She pointed out that KwiKom, the company who had received the large grant, was just taking broadband to the cities of Parker, Centerville, and Blue Mound, not the houses in the rural areas.
She said that Peoples board felt a moral obligation to the people in their school district who live outside of the cities.
She said the reason fiber had not been taken to these area in the past was because of the cost.
“This is what is all about,” said Leach, referring to the funds the federal government had provided to local governments.
Another issue, was that she felt that Peoples had paid more in taxes to the county than they had received in the first grant. She also told the commissioners that Peoples was more active in the community providing scholarships and donating money.
County Clerk David Lamb interjected that Peoples had not paid $50,000 to the county. He said much of what they had paid in taxes was to the city of La Cygne,
schools, and other government entities.
Leach also told the commissioners that Peoples had been approached by the Kansas Fiber Network (KFM) to take broadband to Parker Elementary School.
Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked wasn’t KwiKom going to be there?
“The question is when will that be,” said Leach. “They’ve received a lot of grant funds. I am not sure how all that is going to be accomplished throughout the state.
I know what I can do now and the customers I can serve now, but I don’t know what kind of time line you have on them.”
County Counselor Gary Thompson said that KwiKom did have a time line and if it was not completed, they would lose the money.
Commissioner Rick James said that while the commissioners had made a decision to not spend any more of the ARPA money until they learned how much it was going to cost to redo the transfer station and C & D landfill, he felt that the $30,000 that People’s was requesting was really a large part of what the original ARPA funds were would probably be what the intent of the grant was for.
The other commissioners agreed and approved giving People’s the $30,000 to expand their broad band service around Parker.