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Monday, July 22, 2024

City of Waldron Receives $4 Million Rural Connect Grant

Arkansas River Valley Business Directory

Waldron Mayor David Millard announced on Tuesday evening, October 12, that the city had been awarded the Arkansas Rural Connect Grant totaling more than $4 million dollars.

Millard made the announcement during the regular meeting of the Waldron City Council.

“It was a little over a year ago, the Municipal League hosted an online conference. To be honest, I almost didn’t do it,” Millard stated candidly. “They talked about how people are moving out of the larger cities into towns like ours. In fact, I know several who have done that and are now living in Waldron.”

Millard added that as the city looks to grow and prosper, bringing in vital utilities like high-speed broadband services is essential. “It is one of the things people are looking for,” he added. “If you don’t have it (broadband), they won’t come.”

One of the stipulations of the grant award is a partnering broadband service. “We tried several, Suddenlink, and Centurylink. However, neither were interested,” stated Millard. “I was almost to the point of giving up when I heard from a representative at Extreme Broadband.”

Millard met with the company representatives and knew it was a perfect fit. He noted that the company, although it originated in Florida, has a footprint here in Arkansas. “In fact, the gentleman that founded the company did so because he was from a small town like ours with unsatisfactory internet.”

The Mayor credited the work of Amanda Falconer, the city’s finance director, and Brandon Nelson, Public Works Director, in securing the $4,004,218.00 grant.

Extreme Broadband representatives Tracy and Chanda Jones were present at the meeting. Jones stated that the engineering for the project is already underway and that they will be in search of centrally located real estate in order to provide the most number of houses with initial service. He added that with the local infrastructure, they will be looking to hire 7-12 employees.

“We will roughly follow the city limits with the service, but that will be fine turned with a blueprint or map of service from the engineers,” stated Jones. In total, the service area will be approximately 29 miles.

The City of Waldron will be among the first cities to receive the service in the state. Jones noted that work is currently underway in Ashdown and Sulphur Springs.

“It is the best internet service out there. There literally is none better…,” Jones stated. “The state has partnered with us as a broadband company, and the City of Waldron is the beneficiary. We are so excited to bring this to Waldron.”

The company will offer three price point packages, $29, $59, and $99. Additionally, bundles of TV, telephone, and broadband.

The estimated completion date is August of 2022.

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