HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw, will hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, February 18, beginning at 10 a.m., to learn more about the efforts to expand broadband access in rural Pennsylvania, with a focus on the role of electric cooperatives, economic development entities, and educational organizations.
“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has been documenting and reporting the need for broadband service in our rural areas for many years,” Sen. Yaw said. “Our research has shown that rural Pennsylvania communities and residents do not have high-speed broadband internet service, that rural residents are willing to pay for broadband service, and that urban and rural Pennsylvania residents are receiving inequitable broadband service – not only in terms of broadband speed, but also in the prices they pay for service.
“We know there are some challenges to deploying broadband in rural areas, but there are some great local initiatives, such as Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative’s Tri-Co Connections, that are working to close the digital divide,” Sen. Yaw said. “This hearing will highlight the work of Tri-Co Connections and other local initiatives to provide insights into how they are helping their rural communities get connected.”
Presenters scheduled for the public hearing are: Craig Eccher, President and CEO Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative and Tri-Co Connections; Rachel Hauser, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Economic Development, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative; Aaron Young, Chief Operating Officer, Tri-Co Connections; Bill Gerski, Senior Vice President Marketing and Business Development, Tri-Co Connections; Dr. Michele Moore, Executive Director, Potter County Education Council; Kristin Hamilton, Executive Director, Develop Tioga; and Jed Hamberger, Superintendent, Oswayo Valley School District.
In addition to Sen. Yaw, Center Board members are: Board Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski; Board Secretary Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Board Treasurer Stephen Brame, Governor’s representative; Sen. Katie Muth; Rep. Dan Moul; Dr. Timothy Kelsey, Pennsylvania State University; Dr. Catherine Koverola, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford; Shannon Munro, Pennsylvania College of Technology; Dr. Joseph Nairn, Northern Pennsylvania Regional College; Dr. Charles Patterson, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania; and Darrin Youker, Governor’s representative.
The public hearing will be held via Zoom Webinar. Attendees are asked to please register in advance at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mfYrM_MUTrmKoFOPQqBz4w.
Hearing Agenda – February 18, 2021
10:00 a.m. Welcome and Call to Order
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman
Craig Eccher, President and CEO Tri-County REC and Tri-Co Connections
Rachel Hauser, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Economic Development, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative
Aaron Young, Chief Operating Officer, Tri-Co Connections
Bill Gerski, Senior VP Marketing and Business Development, Tri-Co Connections
Question & Answer Period
Community Engagement & Development
Dr. Michele Moore, executive director of the Potter County Education Council
Kristin Hamilton, Executive Director, Develop Tioga – Testimony
Jed Hamberger, Superintendent, Oswayo Valley School District
Question & Answer Period
Concluding Remarks and Adjournment
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.
Christine Caldara Piatos, Communications Manager
Center for Rural Pennsylvania