In a ceremony at Battle Mountain Farm in College Grove, Tennessee, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Ben Lomand Holdings, Inc. (VolFirst) was awarded the Broadband ReConnect grant for Cumberland County. The application process for this grant began back in May of 2019 with local support meetings held at both Crab Orchard Elementary and North Cumberland Elementary Schools. Many support letters were submitted from community leaders, local, state, and federal elected officials, business owners, real estate agents, and potential customers, to name a few. Data Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster gathered from the over 1,500 responses to his online broadband survey was also submitted. The Ben Lomand staff worked diligently with County Mayor Foster and his office staff to submit an application that would be competitive.
The grant area covers approximately 100 square miles in Cumberland County. Grant funding will be used by Ben Lomand to construct new state of the art Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) facilities to facilitate offering high-speed broadband in an isolated, mountainous service area remotely located in the northeastern section here in Cumberland County. (see maps below for specific areas).
The grant amount from the USDA Reconnect program is $2,240,407. Ben Lomand is providing matching funds in the amount of $746,803 for a total project cost of $2,987,210. A total of 222 homes and 561 people will have access to the new broadband services via the grant, but this is a win for even more households in Cumberland County as the build will put fiber infrastructure in place to allow Ben Lomand to provide service to many other customers after fulfilling the grant requirements.
The Broadband ReConnect Program is a pilot program offering unique federal financing options in the form of grants, loans, and combinations thereof to create or improve rural e-Connectivity for rural customers across America.
County Mayor Fosters says there are still a lot of areas in Cumberland County with very poor broadband service, even including the area where he lives. Cumberland County will now await the state broadband grant award announcements that should be made known in March.
(105.7 News thanks County Mayor Allen Foster for details included in this story)