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Officials praise successful Keene broadband project

The two men set about accomplishing their goal by drumming up community support for the project. They reached out to teachers, parents, school administrators, and local businesses - and the response was overwhelming.

A grassroots effort took hold, and the project raised about $586,000 - with 42 percent coming through private donations.

Using existing structures and with the help of a local Internet Service Provider - Keene Valley Video and Internet - the project came to fruition.

Now, Keene's broadband internet network has been extended to 90 percent of homes and businesses. Herman says funds were used to refurbish the aging coaxial network and build out into new areas of town using fiber-to-the-home technology.

Mason, like many broadband experts, says the economic benefits of expanding high-speed internet access in the Adirondack Park could be huge.

"Economically, it has no adverse impact whatsoever on the surrounding environment," he said.

He adds that the Keene project largely utilized existing infrastructure.

For residents of the park, Mason says broadband opens doors to online employment, and it allows visitors to extend their stay.

"With respect to the seasonal community, which is a hugely important part of our economy, these people can stay longer," he said. "They can make a four-day weekend instead of coming late Friday and rushing home late Sunday. So they're here longer, they spend more money, and put more money into the pockets of people who live here."

Following the presentation, APA Chairman Curt Stiles said that broadband could be the spark that the Adirondack economy so desperately needs.

Commissioner Art Lussi said the Keene project could serve as a model for other Adirondack municipalities.

"I believe this serves as a model to small communities in the park - where there's a will, there's a way," he said. "But we all know that successful projects need innovate and determined leaders to do that. And their enthusiasm got this done."

Nason and Herman said they will make themselves available to other communities - like Saranac Lake - where similar efforts to expand broadband access are already under way.

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