Press Release

September 5, 2019
Cardin, Van Hollen, Trone Host Rural Broadband Roundtable in Hagerstown with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and 43 Federal, State and Local Stakeholders

HAGERSTOWN – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representative David Trone (all D-Md.) hosted a roundtable on rural broadband with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in Hagerstown, Maryland. 

The roundtable included 43 federal, state, and local stakeholders for a discussion on increasing access to rural broadband and the importance of cyber security. The roundtable comes just after the trio announced $2.9 million in funding for broadband expansion in Garrett County.

 “Broadband is a critical public utility and a mandatory resource for the success of any community. Local schools, businesses, farmers and others all rely on dependable online access,” said Senator Cardin. “Its expansion throughout rural Maryland is long overdue. I am excited to see how the federal government continues to invest in the last mile connections for our residents, businesses, and students.” 

“Expanding access to broadband opens doors of opportunity for the entire community, including students, small business owners, healthcare providers and first responders,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This community roundtable gave us an opportunity to talk directly with the people most impacted and highlighted the importance of providing 100% broadband access. Working together, we will keep fighting to address the challenges rural areas face and expand educational and economic opportunities throughout Western Maryland.”

 “Broadband isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. In order to bring businesses and jobs to Western Maryland, we must have broadband access in every community,” said Rep. David Trone. “Just like our country invested in electricity and roads across America, access to broadband should be mandatory in every home to close the homework gaps, healthcare gaps, and economic development gaps. Today we discussed how we can work together to bring federal funding to build this critical infrastructure in Western Maryland.”

“One of my top priorities at the FCC is to make sure that we do everything within our power to get affordable, secure, high speed broadband to every person in this country – and end the internet inequality that exists in rural areas of Maryland and too many others,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “I applaud Congressman Trone, Senator Cardin, and Senator Van Hollen for their leadership on this issue and for learning a lot about the issues folks are experiencing on the ground after hearing from their constituents.”

The group heard from Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, and Montgomery counties about obstacles to broadband in rural areas, including barriers in access to funding and the limited number of vendors in rural areas. FCC Commissioner Starks also announced a new $20 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that will replace current funding structures from the FCC. The rules are still being developed for who will be eligible for this funding.

You can watch a playback of the roundtable here.

There were 43 stakeholders from the federal, state, and local level in attendance, listed below.

Federal Level Stakeholders

  • Denise Lovelady, USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland
  • Richard Jenkins, USDA Rural Development Telecom General Field Representative for Maryland

State Level Stakeholders

  • Delegate Paul Corderman, Maryland General Assembly
  • Delegate Bill Wivell, Maryland General Assembly
  • Kenrick Gordon, Director of the Maryland Office of Rural Broadband
  • Julie Woepke, Executive Director of the Maryland Department of Commerce
  • Andrew Vanjani, Assistant Cabinet Secretary and COO, Maryland Department of Information and Technology
  • Norman Farley, Chief of Public Safety Communications, Maryland Department of Information and Technology
  • Charlotte Davis, Executive Director for the Rural Maryland Council
  • Tyler Patton, Vice President of the Maryland Broadband Cooperative
  • Cassie Shirk, Director, Legislation & Government Relations, Maryland Department of Agriculture
  • Colby Ferguson, Government Relations Director, Maryland Farm Bureau

Garrett County Stakeholders

  • Nathaniel Watkins, CIO for Garrett County
  • Cheryl DeBerry, Agriculture and Economic Development Specialist for Garrett County
  • Kimi-Scott McGreevy, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Development for the Garrett County Regional Medical Center
  • Emily Newman-Edwards, Grantsville Town Councilmember

Allegany County Stakeholders

  • Ray Morriss, Mayor of Cumberland
  • Beth Thomas Tanner, Director of IT for Allegany County
  • Bill Byers, CIO for the Western Maryland Health System
  • Christina Kilduff, Vice President of Finance and Administration for the Allegany College of Maryland

Washington County Stakeholders

  • Rob Slocum, Washington County Administrator
  • Jeff Cline, President of Washington County Commissioners
  • Scott Nicewarner, Hagerstown City Administrator
  • Emily Keller, Hagerstown City Councilmember
  • Paul Frey, CEO/President of Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce
  • Jim Kercheval, Executive Director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee
  • Ron Whitt, Director of IT for Washington County
  • Leslie Hart, Agriculture Business Development Specialist for Washington County
  • Susan Small, Director of Business Development for Washington County
  • Jonathan Horowitz, Business Leader for Washington County Department of Business Development
  • Linda Spence, Business Support Specialist for Washington County Department of Business Development
  • Jim Klauber, President of Hagerstown Community College
  • Robert Alton, Director of Technology for Washington County Public Schools

Frederick County Stakeholders

  • Roger Wilson, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for the Frederick County Executive’s Office
  • Tom Dixon, CIO for Frederick County
  • Rick Weldon, President and CEO of Frederick County Chamber of Commerce

Montgomery County Stakeholders

  • Mitsuko Herrera, ultraMontgomery Program Director for Montgomery County’s Office of Broadband Programs

Other Stakeholders

  • Brian Lynch, President/CEO of Antietam Broadband
  • Curt Pendleton, VP of Business Development for Antietam Broadband
  • Josh Bokee, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Comcast
  • Bob Nichols, CEO of Declaration Networks
  • Andrew Cope, Chief Technology Officer of Exclamation Labs
  • Theresa Bethune, President of Freedom Broadband