Broadband funding comes to Washington State from the U.S. Department of Commerce!

Stephanie Weir, 4-H Network News reporter, admires the fountain in front of the Seattle Central Library after attending the press conference related to the new broadband award to Washington State from the U.S. Department of Commerce - her video interview of Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will be posted soon!
 Stephanie Weir interviews U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee - Pamela Roberts, camera.

Message from Katherine Baril, WSU Jefferson County Extension Director:
The EDC/ TEAM JEFFERSON and WSU are so proud/ pleased to announce that our proposal with NOA Net to provide fast, high speed broadband throughout East Jefferson County was awarded $3.5 million by the Department of Commerce on August 18th. Hooray!! Let's  CELEBRATE BROADBAND !!!

Noa Net now has funding to lay fiber and set up wireless systems to link over 30 "community anchor" sites throughout East Jefferson County. This will match the funding that was already funding t by the Jefferson County fire districts for JeffComm 911 towers and equipment for a  total of $6.5 million in new technology infrastructure. 

This ensures fast-speed access at our "anchor institutions". our libraries, schools, the hospital, government offices, emergency response and fire teams, and hubs that can then be linked  and connected for business development and home access. Whether it be telemedicine in our homes, employers that can now attract a skilled workforce,  our students accessing the best math and language programs in the nation,  this investment is priceless. We may have missed the train 100 years ago but  today Jefferson County will now be connected to the new knowledge based global economy. Farms can expand, businesses will connect with customers and suppliers, and we can now do more to attract young families and entrepreneurs because we will have the connections !!!

I truly want to thank each and every one of you for your effort, the meetings, the expertise you brought to the table, the passion that this was the right time and the right issue.  It truly took a team. It also took a partnership with Mike Henson, from Noa Net!! We could never have done this proposal without his support, maneuvering through the complex grant work,  and his true caring for this community.  

On a personal level, yesterday was really memorable. Noa Net had invited me as the only awardee to attend the press conference. I watched our 4-H Network News youth, Stephanie Weir, interview Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the congressional reps. I saw the passion the NoaNet management brings to their work. I saw their pride in the innovation that ten years ago  they believed that this  region could replicate the public investment made in BPA in the l930s and use that same infrastructure to bring broadband to under-served rural communities . As we talked about how economic development had required first the train, then the phone, then the interstate highways and BPA and now, broadband,  we recognized this as historic. This is all about investing in the future so that our kids can truly participate in the information economy and have a place at the table. I have no idea how much creativity and innovation this will release- I have no idea how many good paying jobs or small businesses this can start. its priceless! but I do know that I felt pride and hope for our community, for the EDC/ TEAM JEFFERSON's effort to set a new tone and the success that  collaboration can really accomplish. 

I also thought to myself that  this community should never doubt the value of  having a University Extension, funded in our community . WSU Extension brought the tractors to farms in the l930s - the after-school, hot meals and mobile libraries in the l950s and  pioneered Learning Centers and rural access to technology in the l990s. We've hosted youth from Rwanda, Korea, and Ecuador in our computer lab; our youth based 4-H news network  and shellfish operations are national models; daily with Clemente, our volunteer programs, the new food and farm economy and TEAM JEFFERSON--  we grow community and change lives. Today, in a time that we all recognize  that the "New Economy" is one based on  knowledge, innovation, and collaboration- on a global scale- this community's university was able to be the pivotal convenor, work with you and  deliver  this broadband, a sizable new investment for this community.  I feel that whatever comes next we accomplished something really good here and delivered something important to this community- a legacy that we can now gift to the young so that they can live their dreams- make their way - make a dent in the Universe. 

CELEBRATE BROADBAND !! Dream big!! Help explain to our communities what a really big opportunity that this is!! 

 We'll get together to celebrate soon!! There is still a lot of work to do. Mark your calendar for September 28- TEAM JEFFERSON  will be hosting the Director of Policy for Washington Internet Access,  Angela Wu, from the Washington Department of Information Services. We'll get everyone together and  CELEBRATE BROADBAND 

Thank you! 

L. Katherine Baril
Director, WSU Jefferson County Extension