Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Brent Davis

Brent Davis




 

Brent Davis is a young father of three who grew up on a wheat farm in Peetz, near the Nebraska border in Logan County and about 20 miles northeast of Sterling. In addition to growing wheat and serving as the head EMT for the town, Davis works for the Peetz Telephone Cooperative, a non-profit company that opened in 1918 and provides phone and Internet service for the area.


When the Recovery Act was signed, Davis saw an opportunity to win funding for a critical project: providing high-speed Internet access – otherwise known as broadband – to his community. According to Davis, nobody in the area has broadband. The company’s 180 Internet customers have slower speed Internet service, which can’t play an online video without stopping to reload after a few seconds.


In the last decade, Peetz has seen huge changes related to the renewable energy industry. About 400 wind turbines now dot the landscape and a geo-thermal plant is going in. But there isn’t enough capacity to keep up with the technology needs.


In August, Davis wrote a grant application from his truck while harvesting wheat. The application filled a 3-inch binder, with letters of support from other Internet providers and the local school – which needs broadband for distance learning programs.


A week before Christmas, Davis got a call on his cell phone from the USDA Rural Utility Service. He had won a $1.5 million grant to lay more than 40 miles of fiber optic cables in his area – which will allow his company to provide broadband service for the first time to about 500 households. Davis said he almost drove off the road when he got the call. His company was the first in Colorado to win a Recovery Act broadband grant. More award announcements are expected in early 2010. The size of the grant was, by far, the largest ever to come to his community.


The grant gives his community a chance to grow and keep up with technology. “It’s connectivity to everything.”


"The three-year project isn’t just critical to the community. It gives the telephone company a future," he said.
 

“We really didn’t have any way of funding this until the stimulus came out,” Davis said. “Without it, we would not be able to deliver broadband to any customers. As time goes on and other companies and are able to provide service, we would end up going away.”


Jerry Henderson, the telephone company’s general manager, says the Recovery Act is providing true opportunity to his town. By winning the grant, “Now you know, OK, the stimulus is going to help smaller communities.”

 

 

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