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A proud day for Taylor County

A proud day for Taylor County A proud day for Taylor County

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen by itself.

On Tuesday, local, state and national dignitaries gathered at Medford Area Middle School to formally announce an agreement that will help to rapidly move Taylor County into the mainstream of culture and commerce by ensuring access to affordable broadband, high speed internet throughout the county.

The county has been working since the spring of 2019 to develop a plan to bring affordable internet to residents. The county, with its sparse, rural population has been largely overlooked by service providers as being not worth the effort to invest in the needed infrastructure for the county to enter the digital age. This left county residents, businesses and industries in a backwater where they had few options and, with lack of real competition, paid a premium for the services they could get.

The middle mile network that will be installed through a partnership between Taylor County and WANRack calls for the laying of 74 miles of high-capacity fiber optic cables before the end of 2021. With the digital backbone in place, the door will open for internet service providers and other vendors to offer services to individual residents and businesses. Beyond the immediate goal of simply catching up in regard to access, the county is looking to future horizons by installing high capacity cable with more than twice the available fibers of other networks. This will allow for the expansion of 5G cellphone towers throughout the region which will dramatically increase cellphone services and, will in-turn, improve access to emergency services.

There are many who worked on the project to bring it to this point. The list of those who gave of their time and expertise to the project is a lengthy one including the full county board under the leadership of board chairman Jim Metz.

The project would have not gotten to this point without the dedication and hard work of Mike Bub, who serves as the chairman of the county’s broadband committee.

According to Bub the unanimous vote to commit the county to borrow up to $9.5 million to make the project a reality was a major turning point demonstrating to companies that Taylor County was serious about the project and making it happen.

Of the many people who worked to get the county to this point, Bub stands apart in his leadership. Without his expertise from decades of working in the private sector, keen understanding of the needs of business and his drive to provide a springboard for economic growth in the region the project would have never advanced.

With a sound, conservative business plan that leverages the county’s borrowing ability against new revenues from those building off of the system, the network investment is set to pay for itself. In under a decade it will become a revenue stream for the county reducing the burden on property taxpayers.

Those involved with the project deserve the thanks and gratitude of current and future residents for their foresight and commitment to moving the project forward.