By Meladi Brewer
GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners met at the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities building to discuss broadband and Opioids. Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshall Combs, and Larry Holmes were present.
Commissioner Holmes advised the board about the acceptance for a “request for proposal” with intent to move into “contract negotiations” for Countywide Broadband Network Engineering & Deployment. With accepting the proposal of Agile Network, the commissioners have taken a significant step forward to providing broadband access for the residents of Darke County.
“The review of Darke County broadband access availability and needs began in the summer of 2021. The process of developing this project further highlights how broadband may impact quality of life for our residents,” Holmes said.
Commissioner Combs pointed out this project is a “necessary thing, as it is the world we live in now.”
“It’s been a known need for a long time, but I think during the Covid years and everything shutting down, students from preschool age all the way up through graduate school in college had to do online, remote schooling -health facilities too,” Combs said.
With the way the world is changing, residents need access to education, telehealth, telecommunication, and more via remote access. It all impacts future ability to compete for economic development projects.
“Agile Network will provide mid-mile broadband access to reach 90 percent or more of the households in Darke County through a wireless network,” Holmes said. “Potential Internet speeds up to 150 Mbps, and Agile will be identifying and managing the last mile providers to get access into the homes.”
The plan is said to utilize five Multi-Agency Radio Communication System towers, and construction of a new tower will utilize five public locations. The build out of this project is 18-20 months due to the construction time of the tower.
Commissioner Aultman said this project is just a base network, and they are going to continue monitoring the project in order to gain access to different levels of communication. The project is a $2.8 million investment over the span of five years, and the county will provide funding of $2 million over a 3-5 year time period.
“We are optimistic that Broadband Ohio will provide a significant grant to defray what the county must fund, and discussions with Broadband have been initiated,” Holmes said.
Both Commissioners Aultman and Combs agreed Holmes did “a great job doing research and communicating to make a strategic plan for this project.”
“It’s going to be a great, great thing for Darke County,” Combs said.
Commissioner Holmes advised attendees that this project was a group effort -stating the other commissioners helped before joking about the project’s success.
“Let this be known. I am not in this by myself, as we all three had a part. If it works out fine, if it doesn’t then they’re with me,” Holmes joked.
A notification for a Region 15 OneOhio Recovery Foundation meeting was made. The foundation will be meeting Monday, March 6 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Shelby County Ag Center (810 Fair Road, Sidney, OH).
Those who wish to attend can do so remotely at meet.goto.com/883761029. The board takes recommendations under the Opioid settlement, and the county, region, and state get a portion of that money to be spent on recovery, mental health, education, and anything related to drugs and the opioid pandemic.
“Our region is probably the largest region we sit on, and we are probably the furthest ahead of any region in the state,” Aultman said. “This meeting here will just be conflict of interest policies, updating our delegates parameters for applications, and hopefully we can have our applications forwarded to get funding from the state.”
The agenda for the March 6 meeting will include county reports on the status of their three delegates, including reappointment or replacement of the nine delegates with one year terms that expire March 30, the board will discuss a Conflict of Interest Policy, discussions on parameters and procedures involving the application process for entities to use when applying for funding, and other business as it relates to being ready to accept and score applications for ultimate submission to the OneOhio Recovery Foundation Board.
The Darke County Board of Commissioners meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at their office located at 520 S. Broadway Street in Greenville. To contact the office, call 937-547-7370.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].