By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn County Supervisor James Voyles on Tuesday participated in a national webinar to learn more about USDA grant money to expand high-speed Internet in rural areas.
Voyles watched the USDA Rural Development webinar from a computer at the Alcorn County Supervisors Office on Fulton Drive at around noon. Floyd Crum, an employee of the county supervisors’ office, also watched with Voyles.
None of the other county supervisors —Steve Glidewell, Lowell Hinton, Tim Mitchell or Jimmy Tate Waldon — were present with Voyles during the 30 minutes that Corinth Today attended. Voyles took notes during the session.
Clayton Stanley, president of the local economic development organization, The Alliance, was also not there. It was unclear if Stanley and the other supervisors watched from different locations.
This was the second webinar that USDA held about the grant money, and there was no indication that Alcorn County officials attended last week’s session.
Both webinars provided information on how to apply for grant funds to expand broadband Internet in rural areas. Grants ranging from $100,000 to $3 million are available through USDA Rural Development and require a 15 percent match.
Nationally, about $30 million is available in grant funds. It was unclear if Alcorn County would submit a grant application in an effort to provide rural county residents with high-speed Internet.
Technical assistance in preparing a grant application is available through USDA Rural Development, according to information presented in the webinar.
A recent USDA study said rural prosperity can only be truly achieved by connecting the rural U.S. with high-speed Internet.
“Investing in broadband can strengthen rural economic growth and improve critical access to jobs, education, health care and social services,” said Anne Hazlett, with USDA Rural Development.
The deadline is May 14 to apply for the USDA Rural Development Community Connect funds.
USDA told Corinth Today last week that Alcorn County may be eligible for the grant money.
Voyles represents the area that includes Glen, Jacinto, Alcorn Central and Farmington. He has said better Internet service is needed in Alcorn County.