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Community residents can take a simple step to help improve economic development, education, health care, public safety and communication in Smyth County. Show up at a meeting next week.

On Monday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m., Smyth County will host a community-wide broadband meeting at the Marion Senior High School auditorium for community input on extending the county’s broadband footprint.

County officials emphasize that “it is vital for individuals and families that do not currently have internet access or have extremely limited access to attend this meeting.”

One of the meeting’s goals is to identify gaps in the county’s broadband coverage.

The meeting is a requirement for the county to be awarded an initial $15,000 broadband planning grant and future grants from Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development to expand broadband service.

The grant has tentatively been awarded contingent upon the county completing several activities, including this meeting. It has already met a requirement to establish a project management team that includes key stakeholders. The team is to help the county develop an action plan.

During Monday evening’s meeting citizens who don’t have access to broadband may also fill out the required survey for the grant application.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph S. Northam and several legislative leaders announced they will advance an 11-point Virginia 2020 Plan when the General Assembly convenes today. Number 11 on that list is “bring broadband to more parts of Virginia.”

Anyone who would like more information about Monday’s meeting is asked to call Kendra at the County Administrator’s Office at 276-783-3298.

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