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Officials: broadband access crucial to survival of Adirondack communities

APA official vows cooperation

Although many view the Adirondack Park Agency as a major obstacle of this buildout - as they've vetoed or delayed the construction of many wireless telecom towers - an APA official said Wednesday they'd be fully cooperating with the broadband initiative.

In fact, the agency has already written a letter - submitted with the grant application - expressing strong support for the buildout, APA Special Assistant for Economic Affairs Stephen Erman said.

"The Park Agency is solidly behind this effort to get broadband throughout the Park," he said. "The extension of broadband is critical to the future of the Park's economy."

County chief: broadband is critical to survival

Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe described the situation in more dire terms.

"Our economy is in the worst shape I've seen it in more than 18 years, and our children are being left behind due to lack of broadband infrastructure and connectivity, he said. "This buildout must occur soon if our communities are to remain viable," he said.

Sharon Cates-Williams state Deputy Chief Information Officer, said that lack of broadband in a community would threaten their tourism activity.

"The widespread desire for broadband has now changed the definition of vacation planning," she said. "It's not just about finding sunny beaches, people demand broadband access where they stay."

Wednesday's conference included both positive and negative news about the prospects of the CBN Connect grant application being funded. The good news, local officials said, was that several of the people who will be reviewing the application for broadband grants - including Cates-Williams and Thomas Jenson of the US Dept. of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service - were in the room, hearing first-hand about the critical North Country connectivity needs.

The bad news, according to Murphy, was that some of the criteria for evaluating the broadband applications were skewed against rural communities. Murphy and 42 other representatives of rural regions have been lobbying to get those rules changed, he said.

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