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McDuffie seeks grant for improved Internet

New state-of-the-art Internet services, similar to the ones found in Metro Atlanta may soon become a reality in the Central Savannah River Area.

McDuffie County is the latest county to jump on board with other CSRA counties interested in applying for a Regional Broadband Initiative Grant. The amount shelled out for participation in this venture by the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners is $9,600, according to McDuffie County Manager Don Norton. The $9,600 is the local cash match.

"If it works out, we'll be way, way ahead of the game and have Internet capabilities like those around the Atlanta area," said Commission Chairman Charlie Newton during a recent county government work session. "It would be great for this entire region."

A total of 13 counties are now involved in seeking that joint grant, which is being spearheaded by officials in neighboring Columbia County.

"If this region can get the grant, it would offer us huge capabilities for economic development," Mr. Newton said. He pointed out that it could even become another potential revenue source for McDuffie County.

The grant would provide funding for moving the participating 13 counties from wireless to fiber optics, Mr. Newton told fellow commissioners.

"All 13 counties in our region have signed on now and that's a very positive thing," Mr. Newton added.

The commission chairman said Scott Johnson, assistant administrator of Columbia County, had informed him that it's close to becoming a reality.

Even Nancy Cobb, executive director of One Georgia, contends that the grant application by the 13 area counties "is a real strong one," according to Mr. Newton.

"Everybody's on board with it," Mr. Norton said.

If the grant is approved, the 13 area counties would then have to sign a franchise agreement with the firm providing such state-of-the-art Internet services.

Web posted on Thursday, February 11, 2010

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