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Lewis County launches new broadband expansion

Posted 1/18/23

Lewis County celebrated the launch of the new Hudson Valley Wireless broadband expansion with ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

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Lewis County launches new broadband expansion

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PORT LEYDEN  —  Lewis County celebrated the launch of the new Hudson Valley Wireless broadband expansion with ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Tuesday, Jan. 10, in Port Leyden and Harrisville, the sites of the first two towers in this initiative to be brought online.

The Port Leyden ceremony took place at the town’s municipal offices, where it was also announced that a number of income-eligible residents will qualify for free installation of equipment necessary for internet access at their homes.

In attendance for the special event were: Ryan Piche, Lewis County Manager; Olivia Patterson, Community Affairs Representative, Senator Walczyk’s Office; Crystal Loffler, President, NYS Office of Community Renewal; Hailey Hamias, NYS Office of Community Renewal; Lewis County Legislators Josh Leviker, Jeff Nellenback, Ian Gilbert and Legislative Chairman Lawrence Dolhof; Rosalie White, Supervisor, Town of Leyden; Katie Malinowski, Executive Director, Tug Hill Commission; Douglas Premo, Superintendent, South Lewis Central School District; representatives from the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC); as well as members of the broadband committee, including Adam Zehr.

Lewis County has been working to expand broadband access for over two years. When pandemic lockdowns began, forcing many to attend school or work remotely, rural areas without reliable internet access were hurt the most. County Manager Ryan Piche explained that students were particularly affected by this.

“One of the important pieces of broadband coverage in Northern New York, and really in a modern society, is our students,” Piche said. “The new tools that are coming out of schools every day require internet access. Students cannot learn in a 21st century environment without internet access. This project – between this project and the one up in Harrisville – is going to cover 600 households that were not previously covered before, and that means students across those areas are going to have access to opportunities and be able to do their homework after school like they should be able to do in the 21st century.”

Superintendent Douglas Premo said, “As an educator and as a parent, I can’t help but think back on the last few years and all the challenges we have faced. Specifically, I recall Friday, March 13, 2020, when our school door closed to students for indoor instruction due to COVID-19. They didn’t open till later that September, to a hybrid teaching and learning model. … This experience put a glaring spotlight on those communities and families that had access to high quality broadband, and those that did not. Without this access to broadband internet, the learning and cultural gap only widens. … It is for this reason and many others that today is an important day in Lewis County, where the new option and a provider of broadband internet services has become available.”

In total, Hudson Valley Wireless will provide 27 free public wi-fi hotspots in hamlets and villages throughout Lewis County. In addition, county legislators have also endorsed a one-of-a-kind three-year agreement with Spectrum to replicate this service throughout the entire county.

As part of its ongoing broadband efforts, Lewis County was awarded $747,790 in funding through NYS’s CDBG Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) program. The project was completed below the anticipated budget, so the county will use remaining grant funds to cover the cost of installation for approximately 200 households. To be considered for this coverage, which is on a first-come first-serve basis, a resident must live within the project area and be income-eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

To apply for the ACP or learn more about Lewis County’s broadband project, visit https://www.hvwisp.com.

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