Clark County commissioners approve nearly $2.2 million for fiber optic project

Broadband services will boost county government buildings through American Rescue Plan Act dollars

A roughly $2.2 million fiber optic service project, funded through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money, is expected to boost connectivity among government buildings across Clark County.

The Board of Commissioners of Clark County authorized on Wednesday ARPA spending for the fiber project.

The money is coming from $26 million allocated to Clark County from the $1.9 trillion ARPA that President Joe Biden signed into law in March. A total of $350 billion was allocated to help local governments across the country reeling from pandemic impact.

A portion of ARPA funds can be used for broadband infrastructure projects. The spending approved by commissioners Wednesday will go toward the installation of the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association’s (MVECA) fiber services for Clark County government buildings.

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Clark County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson told the News-Sun that a timeline for the fiber project will be established following the county entering into and agreement for the project with MVECA.

MVECA, based in Yellow Springs, offers infrastructure management services (such as fiber optics) to local government bodies. Its infrastructure project for the county government buildings will include installing 170,000 feet of fiber optic cable fiber.

Hutchinson said that the county buildings do not have a means by which to communicate with one another: the fiber services project would establish a framework that county-owned buildings -- ranging from the county’s wastewater facility in Medway to the Springview Government Center in Springfield -- can use to stay connected.

The implementation of fiber through MVECA, she said, will also allow the county to be able to have “more control” over costs associated with internet use, as well as give the county a way to provide internet to its offices and facilities without going through a traditional service provider.

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Hutchinson said the county, following the completion of the expected project, may discuss ways to allow the general public to utilize county internet services while inside county-owned buildings.

Clark County received half of its allocated $26 million in March and will receive the rest of that money in June. The county will have until the end of 2024 to allocate money for projects and expenditures. The deadline to spend that money is December 2026.

Prior to this week, the commissioners have authorized more than $3.5 million in ARPA spending. That money is being used for the reimbursement to the general fund for pandemic-related losses in revenue, the reimbursement of employee paid administrative leave resulting from anytime between March 3 and June 2, the funding of technology for the county’s dispatch center, expected to open in 2022 on Home Road in the former Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Children’s Home. Last week, commissioners also approved ARPA spending for a stormwater improvement project for Enon-Xenia Road to help alleviate flooding in the area.

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By the Numbers:

2.2: The amount, in millions, of the proposed fiber project

350: The amount, in billions, from ARPA allocated to local governments

170,000: Number of feet of fiber optic cable expected for the project

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