Thank you, Far West Texans in Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties for participating in a broadband internet survey the Rio Grande Council of Governments recently completed in partnership with Connected Nation/Texas and the TriCounty Broadband Alliance.
You all achieved a combined survey completion rate of 101 percent, as Presidio County responses totaled 129 percent, Brewster County 103 percent, and Jeff Davis County 80 percent.
Responses were received in every category: residential, agriculture, business, government, healthcare, higher education, K-12 education, libraries and community organizations, and public safety.
Connected Nation/Texas will now take the data and create maps where internet is and isn’t available and prepare a technology action plan. With that, our cities, counties, and school districts, along with broadband providers may apply for grant and loan funds to bring the technology to our friends, neighbors, and schoolchildren who are unserved or underserved.
“Access to broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Far West Texas state Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, said. “Almost 65% of people without broadband live in our rural communities. During the pandemic in those communities without access, students fell further behind, the elderly avoided doctor visits and small businesses were unable to stay connected with their customers. I co-sponsored HB 5 to establish the State Broadband Plan and Broadband Development program to move Texas forward to bridging the digital divide.”
Congressman Tony Gonzalez, R-San Antonio; state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio; and state Rep. Eddie Morales Jr., D-Eagle Pass, who all represent Far West Texas, also supported the effort.
Thank you to the public libraries in Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, Presidio and Marathon and Terlingua CSD who advocated for us and printed at their expense survey copies so we could document those who don’t have access or have limited access to the internet and who need and want it.
Key to documenting the unserved were the Sunshine House in Alpine (and Marathon), the Marfa Nutrition Center, the Presidio Nutrition Center, and the Marfa and Jeff Davis County food pantries, all who distributed the printed survey to their clients.
Our media partners, The Big Bend Sentinel, Presidio International, Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch, The Van Horn Advocate, Alpine Avalanche, and the Alpine and Marfa radio stations kept our initiative in the public eye and ear.
BBT, Big Bend Telephone/Telecom, is a valued alliance member and worked with us along the way, sharing with us it’s invaluable 55 years of telecommunications knowhow and experience in Far West Texas. BBT is committed to maintaining and expanding its broadband footprint with fiber-optic cable, the fastest and most reliable method of delivering “the ‘net.”
When we hit a snag, the folks at Connected Nation/Texas were there for creative ideas and words of encouragement.
With a state broadband office now created, Presidio, Jeff Davis, and Brewster counties will soon have the latest data to share with the office as a statewide broadband plan is developed and project funding is made available.
While this is a great legislative success for our rural area, work for high-speed and affordable broadband internet must continue. The success of the survey initiative makes this task easier, and we thank you all for your participation.
Rio Grande Council of Governments
I am looking for a little help.
As most of your readers know I wrote a book “MORE THAN A BADGE, Rough Country the Law and Me” about two years ago and it received such a great reception I am working on a sequel to be entitled “More than A Badge, the Rest Of The Story” A quick note, my editor on book one had me quit because the book was getting to big, so I stopped short of many of the things I wanted to write about. Stories, Places, and People that had an influence in my life, even with book two a lot will still be unsaid, unrecorded.
Part of book two will be devoted to Badges, and to illustrate the uniqueness of each Sheriff I am trying to get a picture of each Brewster County Sheriff’s badge. It’s not easy, so therefore the help is needed, I am hoping that kin to these Sheriffs might know who or where the sheriffs badges are and help me get pictures of them for the new book, thus showing the diversification of styles, tastes and uniqueness.
I have located badges for all but these Sheriff’s (There are 17 and I now have 10) and would gratefully appreciate you help. If you can locate one of these you can send me a picture (as sharp as possible) via email. Needed are Sheriff James Buchanan Gillett, Sheriff Dock W. Gourley, Sheriff D.A.T. Walton, Sheriff James Allen Walton, Sheriff William N “Newt” Gourley, Sheriff William Oscar Hale, and Sheriff Clarence W Hord. Your help would be gratefully received.
My email can be found in my book or on Facebook.
Carl C. Williams
Brewster County, Texas