Presidential task force meeting in October, 2022. Photo courtesy of NCACC
As part of a statewide effort to address broadband access in unserved and under-served communities in North Carolina, Buncombe County Commissioner Terri Wells joined the inaugural meeting of the Connecting Counties Task Force. The group of commissioners and county staff, appointed by NCACC President and Washington County Commissioner Tracey Johnson, met as part of the presidential initiative seeking to explore the complexities and opportunities for expanding broadband.
“It is my honor to be selected to serve with County Commissioners from across North Carolina to work collaboratively on one of the most pressing issues of our time,” notes Commissioner Wells. “Our ability to connect Buncombe, connect Western North Carolina, and connect our residents and businesses across the great state of North Carolina will determine how well we are positioned for a strong and thriving future.”
Task force members heard a presentation on the history of broadband connectivity in North Carolina from NCACC staff and were given a briefing from experts at the NC Department of Information Technology on the current state of broadband. In the briefing, the department’s Nate Denny, Deputy Director of the Broadband and Digital Equity Division, and Emily Gangi, Policy Director for the Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, spoke to opportunities the department is developing to make high-speed internet connectivity a reality for those with barriers to access. The department is at the heart of efforts to expand broadband in the state and has long been a crucial partner to counties.
“I am thrilled to begin working with my Connecting Counties task force members to expand broadband connectivity throughout North Carolina. We are passionate about understanding the on-the-ground impacts of disconnection in counties and have a goal of helping counties work with partners on broadband expansion projects,” said President Johnson.
Led by co-chairs Steve Morris, Board Chair of the Cabarrus County Commissioners, and Ron Wesson, Bertie County Commissioner, the Connecting Counties Task Force represents counties from across the state, all dealing with unique challenges in securing access to broadband.
The task force will continue its work advocating in their communities and reconvene for regular meetings across the state. For more information on the initiative and the work of the task force, visit http://www.ncacc.org/connectingcounties. Task force members include:
- Tracey Johnson, Washington County Commissioner and NCACC President
- Steve Morris, Cabarrus County Board Chair and Task Force Co-Chair
- Ron Wesson, Bertie County Commissioner and Task Force Co-Chair
- Johnnie Carswell, Burke County Commissioner and NCACC President-Elect
- Jesse Dowe, Duplin County Commissioner
- Keith Elmore, Wilkes County Commissioner
- Nina Griswell, Tyrrell County Commissioner
- Shinica Thomas, Wake County Commissioner
- Charlie Wallin, Watauga County Commissioner
- Ralph Webb, Edgecombe County Commissioner
- Terri Wells, Buncombe County Commissioner
- Gayle Woody, Jackson County Commissioner
- Randy Cress, Rowan County Manager
- Tim Love, Buncombe County Director of Economic Development
- Bryan Miller, Caswell County Manager
About the NCACC: The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is the official voice of all 100 counties on issues being considered by the General Assembly, Congress and federal and state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management and education and leadership training.