Kim Brandt poses with the Broadband Hero Award in Van Wert. (Submitted photo)
Kim Brandt poses with the Broadband Hero Award in Van Wert. (Submitted photo)
COLUMBUS – Van Wert County has been recognized once again for the expansion and promotion of broadband Internet service. Connect Ohio recognized Van Wert County with a Broadband Hero Award during its quarterly Technology Association meeting Friday in Columbus at the Vern Riffe Center. Van Wert County was recognized for its efforts of fostering high-speed broadband expansion to the many unserved and underserved homes and businesses in the area. Kim Brandt, 911 coordinator for Van Wert County, as well as Commissioners Thad Lichtensteiger, Stan Owens, and Todd D. Wolfrum, accepted the award in the commissioner’s conference room on Thursday.

Connect Ohio began working with Van Wert County through its Connected program, championed by Brandt seeking a technology action plan to enhance Van Wert County’s capabilities. Connect Ohio worked with Van Wert County to develop a plan to expand digital literacy, build awareness for the benefits of broadband, and assist businesses with websites and social media, as well as improving the online presence of local governments, among other entities. Van Wert County is Ohio’s first to achieve the official Connected certification and the ninth community in the nation to earn this certification. “We are very excited to receive the Connect Ohio Broadband Hero Award,” according to a joint statement issued by Van Wert County Commissioners. “By being able to improve the online presence for government in the county, we have also been able to develop an important public/private partnership. Currently we are working on the fiber loop, which should be completed in the near future. We are very happy to be given the opportunity to be able to improve technology in Van Wert County and the State of Ohio.”

The Van Wert County Connected certification process came after 6 months of the local broadband planning committee working with Connect Ohio to assess the broadband landscape, identify gaps, and establish actionable goals and objectives. The certification is an important benchmark as the team now phases into working on its newly established long-term community broadband plan.

“The cooperation of local authorities is vital to the expansion of high-speed Internet, especially to rural areas. Van Wert has provided a great benefit to its citizen through this collaboration,” said Jeff Beebe, state operations manager for Connect Ohio. “Kim has been critical to the whole process and the Commissioners have also been very proactive in trying to implement new technologies in the area.”

That certified community certification came in August 2013.

Connect Ohio thanked Van Wert County and Brandt, Lichtensteiger, Owens, and Wolfrum for championing broadband expansion in the community, and aiding in connecting numerous households and residents to high-speed broadband access.