SUGAR RIDGE — The federal government visited the rural village on Tuesday morning, as Congressman Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, showed Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr the facilities at Luckey Farmers’ elevator.
“We are very focused on getting more broadband and internet service into rural areas,” Carr said.
One of five FCC commissioners, Carr said the things he learns by getting out and seeing the actual services in the rural communities helps him and the others when they are making decisions in Washington, D.C.
Carr said one of the FCC’s goals is to try and make sure everyone across the country has access to high speed and efficient internet service, especially for students and small businesses such as Luckey Farmers.
Latta said the goals are important to not only his district but across the country.
“There are areas, especially in Paulding County, where there are numerous areas which are underserved or unserved. They don’t have anything,” he said.
“We’ve heard the reports of kids having to cross over into Canada to do their homework at McDonald’s. That’s just not right.”
Latta praised Carr for his commitment.
“He’s very accessible and together we are working on closing the divide in rural broadband service,” he said.
The FCC is also diligently working on maps which show where the gaps and divides are located in broadband services.
Latta serves as the Republican leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which oversees the FCC.
He is also involved with similar advancements with the “telehealth” system for communications in the healthcare field.
Luckey Farmers was among several stops made on a tour by Latta and Carr to learn about this area.
Luckey Farmers has worked with Wood County Internet Service Provider through Amplex and has developed a special system to connect all of their facilities across their multi-county operation.
Andy Swerlein, president and CEO of Luckey Farmers, said they worked with Amplex to have towers installed on many of their grain elevators. In turn, Amplex is able to sell the service to neighboring homes and other businesses.
Swerlein said their internet connections also assist the local farmers because of internet systems on farm equipment which can assist in the “minimization of excess application of N, P and K (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium nutrients). That helps everyone in controlling water pollution,” he said.
Modern farm technology can use soil samples and other information to know exactly how much fertilization to be applied and exactly the right places where it is needed.
“We have a lot more work to do, there are many challenges for the rural areas,” Carr said.
He went to the top of the elevator to see the actual system.
“When you get up there, you get a different perspective and I could see like 250 homes that can be serviced from that one tower,” Carr said.
The delegation also visited the Wood County Justice Center and talked to Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn about the jail’s use of internet. Later they visited a farm in Napoleon.
Wasylyshyn said they have also worked with Amplex and have integrated all their communications, not only within their system and the 911 system, but with all the Mi-Fi systems which are in each of the deputy’s vehicles. He also said they are putting the finishing touches on a partnership with Sandusky County to piggy-back the systems to allow the staff from both counties to access information from the neighboring county.
Officials from Amplex said that they have also struck similar deals with the Northwestern Water and Sewer District to better serve the community.