Wildland Fires of 2015 Spark a New Passion for Broadband
In 2015, the Carpenter Road fire destroyed 63,972 acres in Stevens County and on the Spokane Indian Tribe Reservation. The fire camp was without any access to internet for two weeks and had to drive GIS maps on a zip drive from the county office. This incident revived a long-term effort to improve broadband access in Stevens County.
Discovering ways to increase access and use of the internet has been addressed through WSU Stevens County Extension working in partnership with citizens, groups, business and agencies for many years. Even so, there are still gaps in broadband service and use. Following the fires, the Stevens County Broadband Action Team (SC BAT) was formed to continue earlier efforts. It builds on previous projects including the Horizons Community Leadership Program, USDA’s Stronger Economies Together, and the ARRA-funded Local Technology Planning Teams through the former Washington State Broadband Office. SC BAT has been invited by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to serve as a co-designer and field tester for a new broadband planning resource called the Broadband Connectivity Assessment Tool (BCAT).
Pre-positioned Fire Camps; explored a Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) feasibility grant for broadband deployment to address public safety and economic development. Will continue to look at other funding options
NTIA Community Connectivity Initiative; will give us new tools to accelerate broadband deployment, deepen broadband adoption, strengthen local policies, and use broadband to advance local priorities. This will enhance broadband and public sector efforts by the County and vendors.
Mapping; continue to look for ways to determine the availability and strength of existing internet in the county.
Support ISPs; help them identify service gaps and opportunities to more effectively connect with customers to increase broadband access and use.
Tech Expo; Save the Date: October 18, 2019! This is an opportunity for you to meet with ISPs and other technical vendors, learn about cybersecurity and social media, and test drive multiple internet accessible tools.
Advocacy; learn about and comment on legislation and emerging technologies.
We are proud to have a diverse and active group:
Local and Regional:
WSU Extension: Debra Hansen, Stevens County Director, Monica Babine, Digital Initiatives, Bert Klimas, BAT Coordinator
City of Chewelah: Dorothy Knauss, Mayor
City of Colville: Nancy Foll, Councilwoman
Colville School District: Pete Lewis, Superintendent
WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR): Steve Harris, Wildfire and Forest Practices Assistant Manager
Libraries of Stevens County: Amanda Six, Director, Jessica Varang, IT Manager and Bryan Tidwell, Chewelah Library Manager
NE WA Health Programs: Desiree Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer and Clint Hagen, IT
Spokane Tribe of Indians: Frank Metlow, Planning & Economic Development Director and Randy Bowen, IT Director
Tri County Economic Development District (TEDD): Interim Silas Rappe, District Planner
Commissioners: Wes McCart, Don Dashiell and Steve Parker
Emergency Management: Jim Caruso, Director and Adenea Thompson, WSU Extension Communications Coordinator
Information Services: Mark Curtis, Director and Trevor Sellars, Communications Specialist
Fire Protection District #9: Jeff Pitts
Fire Protection District #12: Dave Klimas and Jason Edwards
Employment Security: Bryan Raines and Barney Brockwell
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR): Steve Harris, Wildfire and Forest Practices Assistant Manager
Governor’s Office: John Flanagan and Will Saunders
Commerce: Julia Havens
US Congressional Staff:
Senator Cantwell: Alex Scott
Senator Murray: John Culton and Ben Merkel
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers: Andrew Engell and Michael Taggart
Senator Shelly Short
Representative Jacquelin Maycumber