Whether you’re answering emails from your boss, turning in homework for class, or even attending Zoom parties with socially distant family and friends, the COVID-19 pandemic has made high-speed internet essential for everyday life. But what happens to houses that do not have this necessary luxury? Are these workers and students being left behind?
The Washtenaw County commissioners don’t think so. In September 2021, the County Board of Commissioners approved a funding proposal to get every home in the county connected to high-speed internet under the county scheme. Washtenaw Rescue Plan. Last month, a home in Lima Township became the first in Washtenaw County to be connected as part of this project.
District 1 Commissioner Jason Maciejewski was an integral part of the effort.
“Broadband Internet access is a gateway for education, health care and the economy. It’s more than just streaming entertainment,” says Maciejewski.
As with any community initiative, the council has had setbacks.
“One of the challenges the county commission faced in allocating funds for this project was letting the public know that the benefits extended throughout the county,” says Maciejewski. “Once people understood the overall impact of this project, I think we gained the momentum to make it a reality.”
The heavily rural district of Maciejewski, which includes the township of Lima, gives him a personal connection to this project.
“For me, this project means better access to a variety of goods and services. However, this is really only a first step because this project gives people access to the infrastructure of the Internet,” he says. “It does not give everyone the possibility to connect via this access. Ultimately, we need to find a way for everyone to get and use broadband Internet service. »
The project intends to use approximately $15 million in funds to connect more than 3,000 Washtenaw homes to quality high-speed broadband Internet. You can find more information about this initiative and others that are underway as part of the Washtenaw rescue plan. here.
Rylee Barnsdale is originally from Michigan and a long-time resident of Washtenaw County. She wants to use her journalism background from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.