A memorandum of understanding between the city of John Day and the Oregon Telephone Corporation to promote broadband service in Grant County was hammered out by key officials May 21.

John Day, as the lead agency for the Grant County Digital Network Coalition, will contribute up to $1 million toward construction of fiber optic lines proposed in Ortelco’s USDA ReConnect grant application. The city received a $1.8 million legislative appropriation for broadband infrastructure in 2017.

Ortelco general manager DeeDee Kruser and area manager Marcus Bott attended the joint coalition and city council meeting May 21.

The MOU states that the city and Ortelco “wish to work together to promote their mutual interests in extending their networks and providing high speed broadband service to unserved and underserved areas” of the county.

The coalition is seeking a USDA Community Connect grant to fund fiber optic infrastructure linking Seneca to a major trunk line in Burns and to provide broadband service throughout Seneca.

Under the MOU, Ortelco will apply for a ReConnect grant to fund 80 miles of fiber optic lines from Seneca to John Day and from Mt. Vernon to Long Creek, Monument, Kimberly and Spray. Broadband service from John Day to Mt. Vernon would be provided through Ortelco’s existing infrastructure.

Upon notice that Ortelco has been awarded the ReConnect grant, John Day and Ortelco will enter into a negotiated service agreement in which Ortelco will provide broadband service to customers and operate the network. The network will be capable of providing gigabit speed internet service, the MOU states.

The specific terms of the service agreement, conditions of the network operation and how the city will be compensated for its investment will be included in the separate service agreement, the MOU states.

The coalition’s board and the city council each approved an amended version of the MOU, but the city had not heard back from Ortelco, Green told the Eagle on May 22. If more changes are needed, the MOU will be brought back to the city council on May 28, he said

If the coalition is awarded the Community Connect grant and Ortelco is awarded the ReConnect grant, sufficient funding should be available to link all the cities in the county to a single broadband network with connections to outside trunk lines to the south, east and west.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.


Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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