Lt. Gov. Barnes Visits Wood County to Discuss Rural Broadband

Roundtable discussion with Lt Gov Barnes

Lt. Gov. Barnes Visits Pittsville Fire Station

A state official visited Pittsville Fire Station on Friday morning to learn about needs and potential solutions to expanding broadband internet coverage in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, along with Commissioner Tyler Huebner, Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), met with 18 residents of rural Wood County.  The officials were looking for “feedback on how Wisconsin can best partner with local communities to improve access to broadband, along with discussion on provisions in the state budget and how federal American Rescue Plan funds could be utilized to bolster rural broadband.”

Participants were representative of town and county government, education, health care, public safety, agriculture (dairy and cranberry), small business and economic development.

Some of the key points made by participants related to:

  • challenges all faced when work and education went virtual in early 2020;
  • internet access as a public safety issue;
  • future of telehealth services;
  • how broadband affects the “quality of place” that is needed for economic development;
  • access to technology is key to retaining and recruiting workforce;
  • modern agriculture, whether dairy or cranberries, rely on technology to maintain profitability;
  • tourists expect connectivity when visiting our area and spending dollars here.

Also attending was Steve Schneider, CEO of Bug Tussel Wireless, which partnered with Wood County to write two proposals which were funded by the PSC.  Schneider indicated that he and members of his team will be back to obtain input from residents on project implementation.

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MaryAnn Lippert
Author: MaryAnn Lippert

MaryAnn is a Pittsville native who believes that small rural Wisconsin communities are the best places in the world to live, raise a family, work and play. She learned this by traveling for six years through 40 northern Wisconsin counties listening to residents and helping solve problems related to state government. MaryAnn enjoys working in her yard and woods, hanging out with her family and cheering for all Wisconsin sports teams. Heaven on earth is Lambeau Field, north end zone.