Over 500 homes and businesses in Mason County will see a major upgrade in their high-speed internet access. Financial assistance through the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board will allow the following underserved communities to bolster their internet services:
- Chapman Road on Harstine Island
- The Fish Hatchery near Matlock
- Island View Road in Grapeview
- Lake Christine on the Tahuya Peninsula
- Satsop Maple Glen
- The Schafer Park area
- Tahuya River Valley
The proposed funding package includes a $408,325 low interest loan and a $408,324 grant, matched locally with $150,000, according to a news release. Mason Public Utility District 3 applied for the funding which will be used to set up Fiberhood programs in these neighborhoods.
Fiberhoods are neighborhoods with designated access to the fiber optic network. Mason PUD 3’s fiber optic network is an open access, net neutral service. Expanding the network allows for improved education opportunities, economic development, and higher property values.
“Virtually every job and economic opportunity today require access to broadband services,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “Where someone lives should not be a determining factor in pursuing educational goals, entrepreneurial dreams or quality health care. These funds announced today will help meet the needs and strengthen rural and tribal communities throughout our state.”
Jefferson PUD, the city of Goldendale, the Port of Skagit County, the town of Darrington, and the Port of Whitman County will also receive benefits from these funds.