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NY-19 Rep. Delgado Highlights Rural Broadband Internet Needs In Ghent

Congressman Antonio Delgado in Ghent, NY (August 2, 2021)
Dave Lucas
Congressman Antonio Delgado in Ghent, NY (August 2, 2021)

Money could soon be on the way to upstate New York towns lacking broadband internet services.

Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado says he secured funding in the House-passed Appropriations Package to help deliver broadband to 300 homes and businesses in the Columbia County Towns of Ghent, Canaan, New Lebanon, and Austerlitz. Delgado stopped by the West Ghent Community Center Monday afternoon.

"We go through COVID-19, we realize how essential this is, if you're a small business owner, you're trying to figure out how to sustain yourself through these challenging times, you might want to have broadband access. If you're a homeowner or a parent, you're trying to figure out how to make sure your young ones are able to educate themselves, you might want to have broadband access. If you're a senior who's trying to figure out how to get telemedicine, you might want to have broadband access. So being able to meet this need, with these dollars over $829,000. That's going to come through, now that we got through the House. And now we're on to the Senate. And we'll be tracking this very closely in the Senate, and doing everything we can to make sure these funds ultimately are included in the budget."

Republican Ghent Town Supervisor Michael Benvenuto says the drive to bring broadband to rural homes has been an ongoing effort since the 2016 formation of the broadband community action network known as Connect Columbia.

"This process continued with the New York State Broadband Initiative, which in effect provided grant money for broadband companies to expand into specific areas. That state initiative started the ball rolling in rural areas such as ours in a big way. For the first time, we were able to see infrastructure actually being replaced, upgraded, expanded, branching out to unserved areas of the town. Unfortunately, after that money was fully expended, we discovered that there remained a few areas in some of our towns that technically remained unserved."

Delgado says broadband has been a concern throughout the 19th district and has remained one of his priorities.

"And so there is a sense of urgency here, that we want to make sure that individuals have the bare minimum of access in the 21st century, to both tend to themselves, tend to their families, tend to their elders, tend to their children, tend to their business, tend to their farms. And you can do that. If you have broadband, you can do it. It's not ideal, if that's the only outlet you have, but you know what, in the middle of a pandemic, you want to make sure that folks have that. So yes, we are pushing. And I think time is certainly of the essence. But you know what, it's been of the essence for a long time."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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