Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named 18 recipients to receive more than $103 million in funding for 23 projects to provide broadband services to unserved and underserved rural communities.

The Community Connect program provides grants to rural, economically challenged communities. Funds can be used to construct, acquire or lease facilities to deploy broadband to community facilities such as schools and public safety buildings, as well as residents and businesses in the community. Each project requires a matching contribution and must serve an area where broadband is not available. The grantee must agree to provide local community centers in the selected towns with at least 10 computers which are accessible free for two years.?

The Community Connect Grants include:
R&S Communications, Vina Town, Alabama, $570,800
Crystal Broadband Networks, Birdsong Town, Arkansas, $570,800
Cable Partner.Net, Whelen Springs Town, Arkansas, $570,800
Karuk Tribe, Orleans California, $1,141,870
Crystal Broadband Networks, Heidelberg, Kentucky, $576,400
Crystal Broadband Networks, Yellow Rock, Kentucky, $583,400
Inter Mountain Cable, Endicott, Kentucky, $993,339
Nexus Systems, Manifest, Louisiana, $1,116,505
Nexus Systems, Larto, Louisiana, $1,116,505
Plateau Wireless, Olean Town, Missouri, $570,800
Plateau Wireless, Brumley Town, Missouri, $570,800
Arizona Nevada Tower Corporation, Gabbs City, Nevada, $1,046,798
Crystal Broadband Networks, Stafford Village, Ohio, $570,800
Wichita Online, Cornish Town, Oklahoma, $494,000
Wichita Online, Tushka Town, Oklahoma, $480,000
Wichita Online, Leon Town, Oklahoma, $481,000
Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Flat Top, Virginia, $1,500,000
Crystal Broadband Networks, Panther, West Virginia, $571,900

The following infrastructure loans are in addition to $192 million in loans Vilsack announced on July 27, through USDA Rural Development’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Program.

Infrastructure Loan Awards:
Wabash Telephone Exchange, Illinois, $21,867,000
The Hemingford  Cooperative Telephone Co., Nebraska, $10,280,000
Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Texas, $22,540,000
Vernon Telephone Cooperative, Wisconsin, $24,143,000
Dubois Telephone Exchange, Wyoming, $11,391,000

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in rural communities.

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Former Fox Cable PR exec Brian Peterson has joined Newsmax as svp, communications and marketing, reporting to CEO Christopher Ruddy . Prior to joining

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