SMETHPORT — McKean County is considering some grant programs for the second phase of its fixed wireless broadband network to improve access to high speed internet throughout the county.

In a report to the county commissioners at their meeting Wednesday, Bob Veilleux, the county’s economic development director, said that phase 1 of the project, which cost approximately $1.2 million, and was funded through the county’s allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Aid, commonly known as the CARES Act, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 30.

After this meeting, Veilleux told The Era, “We plan to seek a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect Grant Program.”

Administered through USDAs Rural Development, Community Connect Grant Program provides funding for broadband service in rural and economically-depressed areas where this service does not exist. Such grants require a 15 percent local match, said Veilleaux.

In a related matter, commissioners OKd lease agreements for the following equipment installation locations for the design/build broadband project with CONNXNE, pending lessor execution of lease and final approval of terms by the county solicitor: Bradford Area Golf Association, Bradford Area Golf Association Subordination, Bradford City Water Authority, Kane Area Radio Association, Minard Run Oil Company, Area Transportation Authority, Beacon Light, Bradford Regional Airport and Kane Area School District.

Commissioners were pleased with the progress of the broadband project, especially in a short time.

Cliff Lane commented, “It was great how this was pulled together since August and September.”

“I want to echo that,” said Chairman Thomas Kreiner, “It was worth the work.”

Carol Duffy lauded the task force, along with Seran McLaughlin, county GPS specialist, for their work on surveying, mapping and options.

Pointing to Veilleaux’s work on this project, county solicitor Tony Clarke said, “Well done, Bob.”

In other news, commissioners OKd a resolution whereby the county enters the 2020-211 Hazardous Material Response Fund Grant Agreement and awards $7,827 to the county,

This funding can be used for various purposes, including conducting training, preparing reports, releasing public information, developing emergency plans, meeting requirements of the state’s hazardous material safety plan, supporting the operation of local communities and reimbursing certain response costs to volunteer emergency service organizations.

The resolution that commissioners approved certifies the county will provide the Area Transportation Authority local funding amounting to $92,057 to match state funds for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The commissioners’ next public meeting will be at 10 a. m., Dec. 8.

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