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Huntington County appropriates $200,000 to Roanoke Internet project

November 5th, 2013

News Coverage:

County appropriates $200,000 to Roanoke Internet project

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:00 am

BY TONI THRASHER tthrasher@h-ponline.com

ROANOKE — On Monday, the Huntington County Commissioners voted to contribute $200,000 to a project that will bring Metronet high-speed fiber optic internet to the entirety of Roanoke.

Funding for the project will be taken out of the county’s CEDIT fund.

Metronet could start on the project this year, though a specific date has not been set. Steve Biggerstaff of Metronet said the timeframe for the project will be approximately two years and that the project is slated for completion by the end of 2015.

Biggerstaff said the new line will extend from Huntington to Roanoke via U.S. 24.

“What we will do is tie into the fiber we put into the (Park 24) project…and that will be the main route into Roanoke,” he said.

In all, Biggerstaff said, Metronet plans to run 20 miles of fiber optic cable between Huntington and Roanoke.

Mark Wickersham, executive director of Huntington County United Economic Development, said the improvement in infrastructure will be a great opportunity for Huntington County.

“As part of the Vision 2020, broadband infrastructure leads to economic development opportunities,” he said. “It potentially impacts every person in the city limits of Roanoke.”

Wickersham has said that the project would benefit Roanoke’s long-term plan for economic development, which is destination tourism. Part of that plan is the economic viability of the downtown area.  

Leon Hurlburt, president to the commissioners, believes the project is “great.”

“Obviously, there is a huge upside,” he said. “I think there’s a huge benefit with that type of investment.”

Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall said he is behind the project.

“I’ve been an advocate for high-speed fiber internet since I became a county commissioner,” he said. “We forget that high-speed internet is an improvement that we need. I have switched to them, because (I have seen a savings). I think the growth with high-speed fiber internet is just going to be phenomenal.”

Metronet plans to invest approximately $1.5 million more to the project.

The Huntington County Commissioners voted 2-0 in favor of the project. Commissioner Larry Buzzard was not present.

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