CATSKILL – On Saturday October 23, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small joined U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) to announce $1.15 billion in broadband funding for rural communities via the USDA ReConnect Program.
The Under Secretary and Congressman met with state and local leaders and representatives from broadband service providers, the New York State Health Facilities Association, Columbia-Greene Community College, Greene County Paramedics, and the Greene County Chamber of Commerce.
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“Broadband is not a luxury – it is a necessity,” said Rep. Delgado. “I want to thank Under Secretary Torres Small for her partnership in the broadband space and willingness to listen to and support upstate businesses, schools, health care providers, families, and more. Funds from the ReConnect program will help communities in upstate New York and across the United States deliver broadband. We must continue to invest in infrastructure to secure high-speed internet for every resident in New York’s 19th Congressional District.”
“Every student deserves to be able to do their homework from home; every small business owner deserves the tools necessary to compete in a world-wide marketplace; and every person, whether in a skyscraper or at the end of a dirt road, needs public safety and emergency information quickly and reliably,” said USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small. “Under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, – and thanks to the work of Congressman Delgado – Rural Development is making up to $1.15 billion available through the ReConnect Program to expand high-speed broadband infrastructure for people who live in communities just like Catskill across the country.”
Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “In today’s world, access to the internet is expected and yet, communities across New York State have been left behind due to inadequate, unreliable, and often non-existent broadband infrastructure. The internet is no longer a luxury, it is a lifeline, needed for students to learn from home, for telehealth appointments and for individuals to work remotely. Today’s announcement by USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small is a critical step in supporting upstate communities and will help our smaller broadband providers right here in Greene County build out in unserved areas. I am proud to have Congressman Delgado as a partner in federal government advocating for increased funding and investments so that affordable and fast broadband becomes the reality for our more rural upstate communities.”
“Disconnected communities are disadvantaged communities, so the announcement of this funding to expand rural broadband in New York is incredibly welcome news,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague. “Broadband expansion means more educational resources for our students, more customers for our businesses, increased access to health care, and more opportunities to connect with those we love. This should remain a priority, until all New Yorkers are connected to reliable, high-speed broadband.”
“Broadband has become the modern day critical infrastructure. The Greene County Legislature is committed to providing 100 percent broadband coverage in Greene County. Following our development of detailed, house-level mapping, we are poised at this time to apply for grant funding to accomplish this goal, and the announcement today may well assist us in that achievement. Remote learning, telemedicine, and economic development are priorities for us, and we thank Congressman Delgado for advocating on our behalf for this Federal funding opportunity,” said Chairman of the Greene County Legislature Pat Linger.
“As a county with no hospital, we must have a first class EMS system with every option for treatment available. With the onset of Covid the use of Telemedicine suddenly became widespread. Greene County Paramedics implemented an EMS Telemedicine program earlier this year whereby a Paramedic responds normally to a 911 call and but is now able to allow a patient to video conference with an emergency room physician from their home, possibly saving a long transport to the hospital. In a rural county having Broadband coverage is the only way a service like this is even possible. We support all efforts to enhance and increase Broadband coverage, it is crucial and life saving,” said Greene County Paramedics President Mark Evans.