Watch now: Lack of high-speed internet access in Pittsylvania County limits learning for students, parents say –

Watch now: Lack of high-speed internet access in Pittsylvania County limits learning for students, parents say –

For parent Shelley Mayhew, high-speed internet access in Pittsylvania County would enhance her children’s learning.

“It’s very difficult,” Mayhew said of the lack of broadband where she lives in Climax. “I have two students in the school system. It’s very difficult for them to complete any online assignments that they’re given.”

She and her husband have attempted to obtain high-speed internet, but they cannot get a signal from the companies they’ve contacted, she said.

“We have tried many providers,” Mayhew said.

But the days of struggling to get hooked up to broadband will likely be over for county residents in the next few years. The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors set a goal in 2019 as part of a strategic plan that at least 90% of county residents have broadband access by 2024.

Nearly $40 million in state grant money announced last week will help pay to deliver access to thousands of unserved residents in the county.

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Climax resident Shelley Mayhew, at her office Friday, said access to high-speed internet in Pittsylvania County would enhance her children’s learning. Lack of reliable access makes it hard for them to complete online school assignments, she said.

Pittsylvania County and RiverStreet Networks have been awarded $39.5 million from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative for the $75 million fiber-to-the home network that will bring access to 12,000 unserved locations in three years, county officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

The endeavor is part of a larger, multi-locality project.

“This grant award is a major milestone in meeting our commitment to bring reliable and affordable internet access to unserved households in Pittsylvania County,” Bob Warren, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, said last week.

Pittsylvania County, Pittsylvania County Schools and RiverStreet Networks signed a memorandum of understanding in September, jointly committing to leverage all possible funding opportunities to continue expanding fiber across the county. For the first phase of the project, the county and the school system committed a combined $16.5 million to the effort, which RiverStreet Networks matched with $19.6 million. The remainder of the funding, $39.5 million, will come from the state grant.

The award is part of more than $722 million that was allocated to 35 projects across the commonwealth.

The $39.5 million award is part of a larger, $87 million grant for RiverStreet Networks and the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, which includes several other rural Virginia counties. The Department of Housing and Community Development administers the program, which provides financial assistance to extend broadband service to unserved areas.

Climax resident Denise Walker does not have reliable access to an internet provider other than using her cellphone hot spots.

“Most recently, we …….


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