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Lycoming County commissioners OK broadband grant for $2.5 million

Lycoming County commissioners approved a $2.5 million grant for extending broadband networking throughout the region at their meeting Tuesday.

The Appalachian Regional Commission funding is part of the cooperative agreement with Tioga, Potter and Clinton counties for establishing the network.

Public meetings held in the past year have considered how to best provide broadband to areas without the service.

Commissioners discussed the possible use of the county’s $10.5 million share of federal stimulus dollars to help fund the project.

The coronavirus relief bill funding, if approved, would be restricted to COVID-19 related issues or problems.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito noted the numbers of students living in areas without broadband who need to access educational and learning services.

“We definitely have the need,” he said.

Mirabito and Commissioner Tony Mussare said the end-of-year deadline for using the federal money could prove to be problematic.

Mussare urged the public to contact federal lawmakers about the issue.

“We need broadband but it would help to have the deadline extended,” Mirabito said.

In other matters, Kristin McLaughlin, of SEDA-Council of Governments, noted projects eligible to share in the county’s $286,189 Community Development Block Grant allocation for 2020.

Funding allocations would be included for the Homes in Need program, $100,000; a West Branch Regional Authority sewer lateral reconstruction project; $136,500; and a compressor for an air conditioning system for Center for Independent Living, $50,291.

The commissioners will not meet Thursday.

Their next meeting is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St., Williamsport.

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