Lt. Gov. attends broadband roundtable in Pittsville
PITTSVILLE, Wis. (WSAW) - Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes was in Pittsville Friday morning to discuss ways on how to improve internet access in rural areas. Hearing firsthand how bad Wisconsin broadband could be.
“Parents weren’t able to do work and have their children educated simultaneously,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said.
Other attendees included Commissioner Tyler Huebner of the Public Service Commission, along with local elected officials, business leaders, and community members.
“We aren’t leaving anybody behind. For far too long communities have been pitted against one another, we’re not doing that. This is about bringing the state together. This is making sure that communities know they can be heard and this administration is going to listen,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said.
The group discussed how the state can partner with local communities to improve access to broadband, as well as how funding in the state budget and the American Rescue Plan Act can support rural broadband. Medical companies like Marshfield Clinic say the need for broadband is growing especially with services like telehealth.
“We heard from Marshfield Clinic today, it’s here to stay. They went from zero telehealth visits to 165,000 telehealth visits just in the last year,” Huebner said.
Going forward, the Lt. Governor plans to continue making trips to rural communities around the Badger State. To hear about the broadband needs for each community.
“It’s one of the reasons we were here today. To hear directly from people. I imagine that those kinds of conversations, this will not be the last of the sort before we get this figured out,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said.
Internet help for Wood County is on the horizon. Public Service Commission announced that Wood County is receiving a grant of over one million dollars to help build towers in the area.
“That’s going to build 14 towers across Wood County to proved internet access and broadband internet access to people,” Huebner said.
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