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Allison Hale, Executive Director of the Cherokee County Health Department, explains to commissioners the purpose of the grant for which her department was applying.

Cherokee County commissioners authorized a written letter of intent to partner with Cherokee County Electric Cooperative to seek a grant for the expansion of broadband access and availability for unserved and undeserved areas. The grant is being sought from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and with the assistance of the East Texas Council of Governments.

“ETCOG is very, very excited about this project, which will bring broadband all the way throughout our county, running off existing Cherokee County electric poles,” Judge Chris Davis said.

“This has been in the works a good many years and there’s money becoming available. The pandemic has shown the importance of what broadband is needed for economics, education, everything within our county.”

Bart Bauer, CCECA director of engineering, was present to speak about the grant.

“I think that if we do get grants, it’s going to be a lot of work...but I do think that we will be able to expedite the project and get it to Cherokee County residents a lot quicker if we can get some of this money. There will be no risk to the county. The coop will front any matching funds, if necessary,” Bauer said.

“It is fiber to the home,” he explained. “If you have overhead electric lines, then we’re going to do overhead to your house. If you have underground then we’re going to do underground. This is available to all of our members, but it will also be available to other customers, for instance, who have another utility provider. So, we’ll be able to reach every resident eventually in Cherokee County, and businesses.”

The letter of intent was approved unanimously during the July 13 meeting by the three members present. Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Traylor and Precinct 2 Commissioner Steven Norton were absent due to their attendance at required training.

“Our other commissioners were very excited about this project,” Davis said. “They hated they couldn’t be here for something this important.”

Commissioners also approved the public workforce grant application for the Cherokee County Public Health Department. The amount of funds requested is $450,000 and will allow the institution of an intern program for the hiring of additional staff members for a two-year period.

Other action items approved included:

• Laying of utility lines in Precinct 4;

• Monthly sheriff’s report;

• Assistance to First Baptist Church-Mixon, installing a culvert already purchased by the church;

• A bond and road use agreement for CR 4912;

• Purchase of a tractor with boom mower for Precinct 4; and

• The consent agenda, consisting of Constable Precinct 2 Jack White’s monthly report and the payment of bills, payroll and transfer of funds.

Commissioners considered a request for a public hearing to set the speed limit to 30 mph on CR 4312 and CR 4313 in Precinct 4. The hearing will be conducted during the July 27 meeting.

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