Maybe the COVID-19 pandemic will help legislators play ‘connect the dots’ on inaccessible internet

Letter to Editor in The Oldham Era shows lack of internet even hits the most affluent counties

A few get it. Very few out of 138 who represent this state as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Some jump right in and say it’s not a big deal to put public notices on government websites. Of course, they probably haven’t checked out how many government agencies — you know, cities and counties — don’t even have websites yet they come down on the side of taking those notices away from newspapers. And they’d never admit it’s not because notices on a government website is a great idea. It’s “Hey, that’s one way we can get back at newspapers for having the audacity to take us to task for what we do or don’t do.” Might make them look bad in the public’s eye.

But COVID-19 should be the ultimate learning lesson for legislators. Anyone who wants to get the local newspaper can. We don’t have “dark spots” where no newspaper is available. But there are plenty of dead spots across Kentucky where internet access doesn’t exist. Don’t believe me. Ask local school teachers about students who have to go to some fast-foot restaurant miles from their home just to sit for long periods of time to learn during this non-traditional learning time. There’s not a county in this state where something similar isn’t happening every single day. Yes, even the wealthiest of the counties are experiencing lack access.

Oldham County is one of the most affluent counties in the state. But here, take a look at this Letter to the Editor to the Oldham Era from an Oldham County realtor, Marion Gibson:

“We are reaching out to discuss the lack of high speed internet in our neighborhood as a growing concern, even more so now during this pandemic. The houses in our neighborhood, Mayfield Farms, have patiently worked with the satellite provider available to us with no success. We have 38 homes per our PVA map all with the need for high speed internet, as many are restricted to work from home, and many students will be doing virtual learning without the services needed to be successful. Neighborhoods around us have Spectrum and AT&T high speed services available to them, but our neighborhood has been left without this option though we have contacted these service providers on numerous occasions about the need in our area. It is frustrating to live in such an affluent county, pay high taxes, but yet have no access to high speed internet which is a necessity in this day and age. We have students who risk falling behind academically, we have employees who fear losing their jobs, all because we cannot access the internet well and consistently…”

Or maybe legislators will take notice of a news release from Congressman Hal Rogers’ office concerning the Appalachian Regional Commission grant he procured for the Center for Rural Development in Somerset. After all, the chambers’ majority party is the same party of Congressman Rogers. KPA Past President Jay Nolan found this paragraph in the release quite interesting:

Currently, Kentucky ranks among the weakest in the nation for average Internet connection speeds, and Eastern Kentucky ranks even lower than the state average. Kentucky ranks 46th in the nation in broadband availability, while 23 percent of rural Kentucky has no wireline broadband access available. Only half the state’s households subscribe to a broadband service.



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