The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made two more grants under the portion of the ReConnect Pilot Program funded by the CARES Act.
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative has been approved for a $24.2 million grant to deploy an FTTP network connecting 4,480 people, 595 farms, 44 businesses and two fire stations in Blaine, Dewey, Ellis and Kingfisher counties, Oklahoma.
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative serves the western part of the state. The cooperative is already quite active in deploying fiber. Earlier in May, it announced a $9 million construction project for fiber facilities in the communities of Watonga, Canton, Fay and Oakland. Another smaller $2.4 million fiber project was announced in April.
The other ReConnect grant, for $5.4 million, is going to the Cimarron Telephone Company. It will be used to deploy an FTTP network connecting 746 people, 107 farms and three businesses in Pawnee and Osage counties, also in Oklahoma.
The original phase of the ReConnect program concluded in May. The USDA invested $744 million to bring services to about 162,000 households, 22,000 small businesses and farms and more than 500 health care centers, education facilities and critical community facilities in 34 states.
The CARES Act, which was passed into law in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, infused $100 million into the program. These funds will be awarded in the form of grants and are available to entities whose applications were not adopted during the earlier phase. The new applications must match the footprints of those original applications.
There are 11 grant applications in the second phase. Two awards – $3.2 million to the French Bend Electric Member Corp. in North Carolina and $16 million to the Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association in Mississippi — were made last month.