Bringing More Broadband to Shelby County
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By Marlana Smith
Shelby County, along with cities incorporated within the county, are seeking complete broadband coverage by January 1, 2025. The goal is to have fiber run to a large majority of the households and businesses in the county.
A county broadband meeting was held Monday, March 7, 2022 at the Shelbina City Hall. Representatives from Chariton Valley and Mark Twain were present along with multiple community members.
“We feel that having county-wide broadband available will open the door to keep our young families in Shelby County and provided the Wi-Fi needed to run businesses now and in the future,” said Shelby County Presiding Commissioner Glenn Eagan.
Chariton Valley and Mark Twain Telephone Company are broadband providers for Shelby County. Chariton Valley is interested in providing fiber. Mark Twain’s theory is to provide fiber within their co-op and provide fiber with a wireless option where it makes sense to do so outside their co-op. Both companies have committed to matching any federal, state or local funds.
Chariton Valley has estimated $3.1 million dollars to run fiber throughout the city limits of Shelbina to complete broadband. They have also given an estimate of $1.1 million dollars to complete fiber installation in the city of Clarence.
Chariton Valley was awarded $5.5 million specially to use to deploy fiber broadband to unserved portions of Marion, Monroe and Shelby counties. Placing 100 miles of Fiber Optic network to 845 unserved locations.
Mark Twain is in the process of running fiber in their co-op area, with an estimate of $5.9 million dollars. Mark Twain is not seeking further funding for broadband within their co-op. They say it will take approximately $10 million dollars to finish providing fiber and wireless to the rural area north of Salt River.
Clarence has committed to a minimum of $10,000 to further advance broadband in their city. Shelbina has committed a minimum of $30,000 for this project. Shelby County is providing a minimum of $150,000 for broadband.
Previously, the county provided $200,000 in CARES funding to Mark Twain Telephone Company to run a fiber line from the courthouse in Shelbyville to the east water tower of Shelbina. The county also provided $50,000 in CARES funding to Chariton Valley, which paid for fiber installation in Clarence. Both companies matched the funds provided by the county.
Providing broadband for the county could help to reverse the declining population trend that many rural counties in Missouri seem to be struggling with.