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Colton seeks internet service through grants


COLTON — Residents of Colton and outlying areas say they are fed up with limited Internet access.

Good service, where there is any at all, is hard to come by in this area, according to community members who have formed a committee to address the technological dilemma.

The town of Colton High Speed Internet Committee is sending a letter to Empire State Development North Country Regional Director Roseanne Murphy in support of Slic Network Solutions’ application for economic development grant funding to provide high-speed broadband internet service to the area.

“Broadband today is seen as an essential service much as electricity and phone were seen 80 years ago,” the letter states, adding that the service is critical to the viability and sustainability of the area.

“Ensuring that the area has broadband improves the overall quality of life in the area, promoting population retention and removing the digital divide between the served and unserved,” the letter added.

Committee Chairwoman Grace J. Hawley, who is also the deputy supervisor for the town of Colton, said the project aligns with the strategic goals of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s goals of providing universal coverage of low cost, high speed broadband throughout the north country.

Mrs. Hawley said the project, which helps fill the gaps that currently exist in the broadband infrastructure, started with a request from Robyn L. Hosley, professor at the SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music, who has a home on Raquette River Road in South Colton.

“It’s what started the committee rolling because nobody up there has service and so we’ve been tracking to see just how many people are currently being unserved, and many are just underserved,” Mrs. Hawley said. “It turns out that less than 50 percent of the residents are being served. So there is definitely a need.”

Efforts to reach Ms. Hosley were unsuccessful Friday.

Time Warner estimated the cost of installation for high speed service wiring at $122,198 for 28 homes and two power sites within a 3.4 mile area, Mrs. Hawley said.

“That is a definite problem at this point, but I’m very impressed with the way the community has taken this on,” she said.

The committee is planning to meet June 4 with Outreach Director Angela R. Liotta of the state Broadband Program Office to learn about funding and the next step the committee should take.

The committee has also been working with Slic Network Solutions President Philip J Wagschal. Mr. Wagschal said his company has been working with Colton for the past five months and has had past success in receiving grants for unserved areas such as Schroon Lake.

“They are very engaged folks looking to put together a successful package,” Mr. Wagschal said. “It’s not only the folks on the committee that see the need but they also are looking for overall economic development in the area.”

Within the state there are grants for broadband expansion, not only through Connect New York but also under the New York state regional economic development councils’ Consolidated Funding Application, which is what the committee is seeking.

Application materials will be available by June 3, and submissions from the regional councils are due Sept. 24.

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