Government , Business

Grayhorse Broadband Project stalls, assessments and appraisals still needed

Despite the pandemic, work is still underway to bring high-speed internet to Grayhorse and Bowring area residents.

On July 20, Osage LLC Chairman Frank Freeman said all three tower sites are now staked out for the Grayhorse community’s portion of the grant-funded project. Once built, the towers will be about 90 feet tall.

“We’ve been waiting for so long,” he said. “It wasn’t anyone’s individual fault. It’s just the way things were happening.”

A completion timeline still has not been set for the project, in part because assessments are still pending from the Osage Nation’s Historical Preservation Department and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation before construction can start on the tower sites.

“We’re still out a ways, but we’re getting close to being able to let out for bids,” Freeman said. “That is a huge deal. It is going to happen.”

The land is currently being appraised for the second phase of the grant, which would serve residents in the Bowring area about 25 miles northeast of Pawhuska in eastern Osage County.

The project is funded through a $3 million Community Connect grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $450,000 matching money appropriation from the Osage Nation Congress. As per the USDA website, the grant program helps finance broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not fiscally feasible for private businesses to provide coverage.

It has been delayed through a combination of factors, including a belated agreement between the Osage Minerals Council and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation over the right of way access, an extended federal government shutdown and the discovery of the American burying beetle along the proposed route for the fiber optic cable.