Rural areas of Johnson County, including those located north of Kalona, are among the locations that have limited access to broadband wifi systems and are in need of attention, according …
Rural areas of Johnson County, including those located north of Kalona, are among the locations that have limited access to broadband wifi systems and are in need of attention, according to a study conducted by HR Green, a Cedar Rapids engineering consulting firm.
The study’s results arrive at a time when Iowa is anticipating a federal program that will make millions of dollars available for broadband improvements in the state.
“This is step one,” Josh Busard, Director of Johnson County’s Planning, Development and Sustainability, told the Board of Supervisors at its work session Feb. 22. “We are positioning Johnson County to be able to take advantage of grant funding.”
A number of communication companies serve various areas in Johnson County, including Kalona Cooperative Technology Company (KCTC) and Hills-based Sharon Telephone Company. Sharon Telephone has been expanding its broadband system in the Riverside area and KCTC has done the same in Kalona.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how engaged they are and how they want to say, ‘Yes, we want to go do this area,’” said Ken Demlow, a group manager with HR Green. “Johnson County, in general, is better off than a lot of the state. Having said that, there are still problems.”
Busard said Johnson County’s focus is to provide residents the ability to work from home, access educational resources from home and access health care from home.
“It’s crucial to have broadband in rural development,” said Sarah Thompson, Director of Rural Development, Iowa City Area Development (ICAD). “Not only will businesses be able to sell online, which will increase their traffic, but students on school snow days and things like that. We’re trying to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, and so having connectivity is key.”
The entire HR Green study, which includes broadband maps, can be viewed at: johnson-county.granicus.com (Feb. 22 Board of Supervisors agenda packet).
The Board set March 8 as the date for a public hearing on proposed plans and costs for the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm Healing Trail Project. The 5:30 p.m. formal meeting on March 8 will also include a public hearing on the proposed Windham Village plan.
The Board awarded a contract of $1.93 million to Connolly Construction of Peosta for the Amana Road NW construction project.
The Board passed a resolution authorizing the county engineer to issue temporary weight embargoes on Johnson County roads, if weather and stress conditions cause problems over the spring.
Due to state legislation that is changing county and city budgets for Fiscal Year 2024, and a deadline that was backed up 30 days by the state, a planned public hearing on Johnson County’s tax levy was canceled Feb. 22.
Supervisor Jon Green, a former Lone Tree mayor, was named chair of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) Transit Committee. He is now also on ECICOG’s Executive Committee.
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