JASPER COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - High-speed internet is coming to Jasper County residents near County Road 12 thanks to the CARES Act funding.
The West Jasper School District applied for and received $390,000 from the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Act to help students with distance learning. The grants were distributed by the Mississippi Department of Education.
Superintendent Warren Woodrow decided to use the money to install fiber internet in the county offering access to 135 homes in the school district.
"We felt like the best use of it would be to put fiber in the ground and to serve our students and our community,” Woodrow said.
TEC, a Bay Springs company, is installing close to 10 miles of fiber-optic cable for the project.
“TEC is delighted to work with our local School District, to offer internet speeds up to 1 Gig for many students who do not have this high-speed access currently. Together, with a common focus and goal, we are meeting the needs of our community. We are honored to participate in this cooperative endeavor that will benefit so many people," TEC Vice President Joey Garner said in a news release.
Woodrow says this project should benefit students longterm.
“Going forward in the future our students now will now have access to fast, reliable internet where they can work from home, do their assignments from home,” Woodrow said.
He adds that the pandemic has made it clear how essential it is for rural counties to invest in access to reliable high-speed internet.
“That is one of the disadvantages we have in a rural area compared to areas with greater populations," Woodrow said. "They have high-speed internet and we do not. So it’s going to be tremendously advantageous to our students, and I think to the community, because now they have access to telemedicine and other things that you can do through high-speed internet.”
Woodrow says the deadline to use the money and get the project finished is Dec. 1. He praised TEC for working with the school district to make the project happen.
“The cooperation TEC showed us in getting this done was unbelievable,” Woodrow said. “Just the short time frame that we had to be able to reach out to them and for them to be able to work through every challenge and every hurdle is great.”
The fiber cable installation began along County Road 12 on Tuesday.