MOULTON — A federal program will place nearly $10 million in the hands of a local telephone cooperative to expand broadband internet access in Appanoose County.
The announcement Wednesday morning by the United States Department of Agriculture outlined a ReConnect grant and loan award to Farmers Mutual Communications in Moulton.
The project received $9.8 million, with half from a grant and the other half from a USDA loan.
They will lay more than 227 miles of fiber lines to connect more than 1,300 new households in rural Appanoose County. It will result in 3,085 people, 228 farms, 50 businesses and two health care facilities to add fiber internet service.
The cooperative has been in Moulton since 1905, developed by farmers initially to establish telephone services in the area. Recently, the cooperative allowed customers to purchase internet services standalone and now have more internet customers than telephone customers.
Services will expand across rural areas of eastern Appanoose County. The cooperative will expand in unincorporated areas of the county as far as the Rathbun Dam, the Missouri border, and rural Cincinnati (though service will not go into the towns of Rathbun, Unionville, Udell, Exline or Cincinnati).
A small portion of the new service area includes Davis County along the county line.
The award was part of an announcement for $24 million in awards across the state. Other projects included $4.6 million to Farmers Mutual Telephone Company in Stanton and $9.6 million to Harmony Telephone Company in Howard and Chickasaw counties.