|Apr 01, 2013 --
No broadband service was available in the Village of Raymondville, Missouri, which has a population of 143. The only internet connection was local dial-up which was not reliable. The opportunity for residents to effectively use the internet for business or education was also not available.
How Rural Development Helped:
Texas County Rural Area Informational Network (TRAIN) operated internet based service through offering local dial-up and wireless access to multiple areas in Texas County, Missouri. In 2007, TRAIN applied and was awarded a Community Connect Grant by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for the Raymondville community. The $727,388 grant provided the funds needed to install and operate a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in Raymondville. The project funded a Community Center called the Public Access Community Room as well as connecting community institutions and providing free broadband access to them for two years. TRAIN is also providing broadband service to residents and businesses in the community.
Raymondville City Clerk, Debbie Schweighauser, provided RUS with information on the impact of the grant: “The project has offered many people in the community access to internet for home business and for in home use. It also helps the city and local businesses file tax documents online which they could not do before because the internet was so slow. The project provides online resources for students to do school work. The Public Access Community Room has helped the community by allowing everyone to have access to a computer and printer. It gives the local residents a place to come and check emails and stay in touch with family and friends. The center is also providing local adults and children the opportunity to take advantage of online educational opportunities. Farrell Christeson, Technical Manager for TRAIN, stated, “One of the largest changes is the ability of residents to take on-line college courses. Some of the colleges being accessed by these residents are Drury College, Ozark Technical College, and Missouri Southern University. The Community Connect project has allowed at least three home-based businesses to be started.”
According to Guy Ceplina, Raymondville Fire Chief: “TRAIN has had a positive effect on Raymondville by providing faster internet service for the community. The fire department not only uses the internet for National Reporting of incidents, but it provides an additional place for the fire fighters to be able to use broadband. We also use the community center on training nights for testing.” Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources holds water quality classes for professionals in the surrounding area that work with the communities’ water and sewer systems.
The Village of Raymondville wanted the center to remain available for free to residents beyond the required two-year period under the grant. To achieve this, the Village of Raymondville provided the space for free and pays the utilities. TRAIN has relocated their offices to this site and manages the daily operations of the Community Center. No fees are charged for the residents wanting to use the facility. The Community Center sees an average of 12 people per day using the internet on an average operating schedule of approximately 25 days a month. Since the opening of the Community Center in 2009, it has logged over 11,300 visitors. Currently, over 60% of the households in Raymondville have subscribed to service at their homes.
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