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Idaho County Vies for Federal Internet Support Grant

Latah County, Idaho, commissioners approved the submission of a $1.6 million federal grant application that, if approved, would improve public Internet access for Moscow, Potlatch, Genesee, Troy and Deary residents.

by Garrett Cabeza, Moscow-Pullman Daily News / July 16, 2020
Shutterstock/asharkyu

(TNS) — Latah County, Idaho, Commissioners approved the submission of a $1.6 million federal grant application Wednesday that, if approved, would improve public internet access for Moscow, Potlatch, Genesee, Troy and Deary residents.

Partnership for Economic Prosperity Executive Director Gina Taruscio said the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant funding, which is administered by the Idaho Department of Commerce, would cover the installation of 2-foot by 2-foot internet nodes on public buildings, light poles and other public infrastructure in the Latah County towns so residents can access wireless internet.

For example, the Latah County Fairgrounds in Moscow and Potlatch City Hall are proposed sites for nodes installation.

Taruscio said each city would need to choose an internet provider and determine policies for access.

While many public buildings, such as the fairgrounds and Potlatch City Hall, have internet access, Taruscio said the nodes will improve connectivity for users — whether that be employees in the buildings or residents who can stop by and access the internet.

“It’s for areas of public congregation so that we can serve the most people in the simplest way,” Taruscio said.

If approved for the grant — which requires no matching funds from the cities — all construction needs to be completed by Dec. 15. Taruscio said she expects the grant awardees to be announced in the next couple weeks.

She said it would be huge if the five towns receive the grant money and she said the other Latah County cities still need broadband help.

“We’re not done yet,” Taruscio said.

Potlatch applied for a roughly $700,000 CARES Act grant this week that would bring fiber broadband connectivity from Palouse to Potlatch, allowing for a stronger, more reliable internet connection, Potlatch City Clerk Judi Davis said. The grant awardees should also be announced in the next couple weeks since work needs to be completed by Dec. 15.

Potlatch Mayor David Brown said the fiber broadband connection would help existing businesses in town and potentially attract new ones. He said he would like to improve internet access for homes in and around Potlatch in the future too.

©2020 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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