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County to invest $500K in broadband expansion

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

Internet access has become a necessary resource. This has become especially true in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many jobs and types of education began focusing on virtual means for safety and convenience. Now the county has secured funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help expand the current broadband service.
“All of these areas we get, they’re just going to help us get more,” Mayor Taylor explained during the initial expansion.
Johnson County officially became a Broadband Ready Community in March 2021 and created a committee to oversee any new projects related to expansion. Both steps increase the chances to receive funding, according to County Mayor Mike Taylor. The most recent money allocation is another step in the right direction.
Officials discussed expansions in early 2021. Through funding related to Covid-19 troubles, the county decided to partner with Skybest to extend high-speed internet capabilities through fiber optic cables. Johnson County invested $10,000 for this expansion into seven areas.
“Broadband is a big need in lots of counties, not just ours,” Taylor said. “We’re moving in the right direction a little bit at a time.”
The federal government is aware of the need in communities nationwide and started helping expand internet access across 49 states back in February 2021. Johnson County was reportedly one of the selected areas and has been working to increase its chances for expansion for around a year now. This has been accomplished through partnerships, grants, and steps to increase eligibility for the latter.
At this time, The Tomahawk is unaware of any
specific plans for this expansion. According to County Clerk Tammie Fenner, the area received a total of $1.7 million from ARP, which leaves another $1.2 million after the broadband investment.
The Johnson County Commissioners meet on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm at the Johnson County Courthouse. For more information, visit or call (423) 727-9696.