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Burke County commissioners are expected to decide Tuesday whether the county should apply for a grant that would help people in unserved and underserved areas get Internet access.

Burke Development Inc. representatives are expected to tell commissioners there is a $100,000 grant with the Appalachian Regional Commission that the county can apply for that could entice a local Internet Service Provider to make Internet service available to some of the unserved and underserved areas of the county, according to information from Burke County.

If awarded, the grant would require a 50 percent match in funding from a local Internet Service Provider to buy equipment and set up a network to provide coverage, the information says.

The county information says there would be an in-kind match of $2,500 from the county manager and BDI for services, but no direct cash would be required.

The areas of the county that are unserved or underserved with Internet access have been identified in a survey by Burke County and through several follow-up meetings providing additional supporting information, according to the county.

The population in the areas is not dense enough for the service provider to make the necessary investment to provide coverage on their own, according to the county. With the ARC funding, the service provider should be able to leverage their own capital to purchase equipment and provide affordable service to the areas, the county information says.

A pre-application for the grant was submitted in April and the county was chosen to submit a full application. The application has a submission date of July 31, the county information says.

If the grant is awarded, BDI would prepare a request for proposal for local service providers.

If no Internet Service Provider is agreeable to the match, the grant process would be terminated, the information says.

In other business, commissioners will:

» Decide on a bid award for Eckard Creek Pump Station rehab project that would replace the pumps and equipment at the Eckard Creek sewer pump station in Icard. The project also includes around 7,600 feet of 12-inch force main pipe that connects the pump station to the gravity sewer system, according to information from the county.

» Decide on the purchase of a John Deere 750K Dozer for landfill from James River Equipment for $266,443.13.

» Decide on awarding a bid/contract to Brooks Networking Service for $252,167.72 and authorize the county manager to execute the agreement on behalf of the board.

» Hear a presentation from EMS on its award of the American Heart Association's Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Award for the second year in a row.

» Decide on appointments or reappointments to Animal Advisory Board.

» Will decide on a consent agenda that includes purchase of Fonta Flora Trail easements; Lease of property at 302-D South Center Street in Hildebran; Conditions of employment policy addition; and Proposed amendment to the personnel policy on resignations.

The county commissioner meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the commissioners' meeting room, located in the Burke County Services Building at 110 N. Green St. in Morganton.

Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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