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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Fed funding helps OR address barriers to internet access

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024   

Oregon is working to address the state's digital divide with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.

Infrastructure presents the largest challenges for connecting people in Oregon to high-speed broadband internet.

Nick Batz, director of the Oregon Broadband Office, said there are more than 170,000 residencies in the state with no or slow internet access.

"Our goal through the broadband office and with all our stakeholders throughout Oregon is to provide access to all 112,000 unserved locations and as many of the 60,000 underserved locations as we can," Batz explained.

The state has received federal funding from a variety of sources, including nearly $690 million from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, and more than $150 million from the Capital Projects Fund approved in the American Rescue Plan Act from 2021.

Oregon's Digital Equity Plan has also been approved and along with it, nearly $10 million in funding.

Bandana Shrestha, state director of AARP Oregon, said there was a time when high-speed broadband internet was considered a luxury.

"Now, it's such a big necessity for everyone, including for older adults," Shrestha pointed out. "Because we know that if you don't have connectivity, you're not going to be able to see your doctor when you want to. Telemedicine is not going to be possible."

Batz added his office is working to ensure every Oregonian can get on the internet.

"It is an interesting challenge," Batz observed. "Nothing has been done like this in Oregon's history of trying to get internet access to everybody. So, it's going to be quite the challenge and it's absolutely going to require participation from everybody to make this happen."

Disclosure: AARP Oregon contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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