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Cass County, Ind., Utility Working to Install Fiber Ring

County commissioners heard an update on the project to extend Internet service to under- and unserved parts of Cass County. The work is being done by Miami-Cass County REMC, a member-owned electric utility company.

(TNS) — County officials updated the Cass County Commissioners about broadband, the jail expansion and new smart screens in courtrooms at the commissioners meeting Monday.

Miami-Cass County REMC, a member-owned electric utility company, is currently working to install a fiber Internet ring around the county to serve areas that previously did not have Internet access.

Matt Mavrick, Miami-Cass County REMC director of information technology, said the company is currently finishing up splicing and other work on the ring north of Young America.

Mavrick also noted that the REMC received grants from the Indiana Connectivity Program and the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. Those grants will allow the company to continue expanding broadband infrastructure.

"We did get a lot of grant money for Cass County, so we will be building out a lot more off the original ring," Mavrick said.

He added that the utility company will focus on installing fiber in the northwest and southwest parts of the county because those areas significantly lack coverage and certain addresses are required to be served with the grant money.

"I've really been trying to spread the word about the Indiana Connectivity Program to people," Mavrick said. "They go in and they put their address, their name and their phone number down. The state publishes a list for (Internet service providers) like myself and others to go in and say, 'Hey, I can build it for this much.' Then the state will subsidize that. We're trying to build out to every home in Cass County that we can."

Hillary Hartoin also appeared before the commissioners to provide an update on Cass County Court and Pretrial Services.

"We served a total of 186 clients in April, and we had 19 clients successfully complete the program while 17 defendants were interviewed for potential participation," Hartoin said.

She mentioned that Court and Pretrial Services was pleased to see their drug screening positivity rate drop to four percent. The service's violation rate is 21%, and the safety rate is 97%.

Hartoin also announced a new caseworker from the Department of Child Services, who will begin working on May 23, and a court technology grant that will provide $42,000 for smart screens.

"They will impact the whole courthouse," Hartoin said. "(There will be) one for each floor with an interactive directory and information center for the courthouse. We're really excited about that and the impact it can make on the building and the government as a whole."

County officials were also present to provide updates on the jail expansion. Cass County Building Superintendent Richard Gundrum said he, Commissioner Ruth Baker, and Sheriff Ed Schroder have spent extensive time going through a "punch list" of items that must be completed before the project is finished.

Schroder later added there was good turnout at the jail open house for residents to see the inside of the expansion last week. He estimated about 250 residents attended.

"I felt like it was important that we should showcase it to the public," he said. "It was a lot of money. There was a lot of work going into it. I'm hoping, estimating, that 95% of our population will never see inside the security walls, so it was a chance for them to see what it looks like."

Schroder said he expected to be moving into the jail expansion last Friday, but it is not ready yet. He said he is cautiously optimistic that the expansion will be ready for occupancy next week.

©2022 the Pharos-Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.