Jacobs meets with locals officials and touts broadband funding for Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2022 at 12:33 pm

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Photo by Tom Rivers: Congressman Chris Jacobs speaks Tuesday evening during the Orleans County Association of Municipalities meeting at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

LYNDONVILLE – Congressman Chris Jacobs praised Orleans and Niagara officials for doing the groundwork in identifying broadband internet gaps and pricing out the cost to bring the service. He was able to secure $3,877,500 in broadband funding.

That money was approved as part of $1.5 trillion omnibus package approved by the House of Representatives on March 10.

The two counties have worked about a decade to bring high-speed internet to rural areas in the two counties.

“This was an easy one because of the all the work Orleans and Niagara did,” Jacobs said on Tuesday while speaking at the monthly meeting of the Orleans County Association of Municipalities.

The two counties initially were going to use federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project, which totaled about $8 million in the two counties.

Orleans on July 28, 2021 accepted a $3,608,435 bid to make high-speed internet available for the current 1,351 address points that can’t connect to the service.

But with the money from Jacobs in the omnibus bill, Orleans and Niagara can use more of their ARPA funds for other purposes.

Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature chairwoman, said the Orleans share of the $3,877,500 will free up ARPA money that will instead go to upgrading infrastructure – roads and bridges – in the county. She is waiting to see the Orleans breakdown of the $3,877,500, but it is expected to be close to half of the funds.

“He’s been a huge supporter of Orleans County,” Johnson said about Jacobs. “We can’t have done (broadband) without federal money.”

The funding in the omnibus bill also included $379,432 for the Cornell Cooperative Extension to develop an Ag/Tech Community Response & Learning Center in Orleans County. That project will be at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Jacobs said the program will help bring up a new generation of farmers who need to tech-savvy in growing crops and caring for animals.

“Getting students engaged in agriculture at a young age in critically important,” he said.

Jacobs also noted his recent appointment to the House Education and Labor Committee. He also is a member of the Agriculture and Ways and Means committees.

Jacobs, during his message to the Orleans officials, faulted the President Biden Administration for a crisis at the Southern border, a crisis with energy, an inflation crisis and a crime crisis.

“If I could use one word to describe the Biden Administration it’s crisis,” Jacobs said.