Commerce agency seeks public scrutiny of 36 broadband infrastructure projects


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TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Commerce received 36 applications for a share of $5 million in matching funds for improvement of broadband access.

Commerce secretary David Toland, who also serves as the lieutenant governor, said a public comment period would be open until March 8 for consideration of specific grant proposals for upgrading communication services in more than 30 counties. Grant applicants will have an opportunity in mid-March to respond to public input.

The Broadband Acceleration Grant Program provides 50% of total cost of infrastructure projects planned for completion by October 2023. The program aims to support projects that wouldn’t likely be completed without state or federal financial assistance.

“The intense demand for this program across Kansas reflects the widespread need for more robust broadband access in unserved areas of Kansas,” Toland said. “We are committed to being transparent and making the best possible investment decisions for Kansas broadband infrastructure.”

To review applications and provide commentary, click here.

Money for the grant program will be drawn from the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program adopted with bipartisan legislative support in 2020 and signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly.

Stanley Adams, director of the commerce department’s office of broadband development, said the comment period was a tool for evaluating complex proposals to guarantee the state made solid investment decisions.

“Receiving public comment before projects are awarded furthers the value and impact these grant projects make and we look forward to leveraging public input again for this year’s program,” he said.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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