Merkley, Wyden Announce $13.2 Million Broadband Investment for Linn and Polk Counties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that PEAK Internet (Casco Communications) is receiving $13.2 million in federal investments—a $6.6 million ReConnect grant and a $6.6 million ReConnect loan—to connect 5,265 people, 32 businesses, 13 farms, and two public schools in rural Linn and Polk Counties to high-speed broadband.

“Now more than ever—as Oregonians seek telehealth services and work and attend school remotely in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus—access to reliable, high-quality internet couldn’t be more important,” Merkley said. “I’m pleased that this funding is headed to Linn and Polk Counties, where it will help thousands of people get connected, and will continue to do all that I can to fight for the resources we need to put broadband within reach for every Oregonian, regardless of where they live.”

“Rural quality of life throughout our state requires access to high-speed broadband connections that link Oregonians to jobs, classroom instruction, healthcare and more,” Wyden said. “The coronavirus crisis places an even greater premium on those needs, and I’m glad these resources are en route to Polk and Linn counties and am committed to keep battling for similar broadband investments in every nook and cranny of Oregon.”

“We appreciate Senator Merkley’s and Senator Wyden’s continued support for Oregon’s rural communities,” said Rick Petersen, President and CEO of Peak Internet. “Through this program, our communities will have high-speed internet and a fiber optic network capable of providing future service to communities that today lack these basic amenities. These programs will pay dividends for years to come.”

The ReConnect program is designed to give rural communities access to funding to overcome the steep upfront costs of broadband infrastructure, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As the top Democrat on the spending subcommittee that oversees USDA, Merkley has helped secure more than $2.44 billion in funding to expand rural broadband across America through the program. Merkley is now pushing the USDA to be responsive and effective in implementing the program so that broadband infrastructure gets to the communities where it is needed.