COLUMBUS — Luke McDaniel, of Meigs County, has been selected as Connect Ohio’s newest Broadband Hero award recipient. McDaniel was recognized by Connect Ohio Executive Director Stu Johnson at the state quarterly Technology Association Meeting Friday, July 20, in Columbus, for his efforts in bringing attention to the need for high-speed Internet access to the volunteer fire department in Bashan.
In 2010, the volunteer fire department in Bashan, Ohio, had dial-up Internet access, which wasn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the firefighters. According to McDaniel, the Internet capabilities were not functional and were like having no service at all.
“Three (firefighters) lost their fire certification because they had no Internet here and the state certification had to be completed online,” said McDaniel during a 2011 interview with Connect Ohio. McDaniel is a former volunteer firefighter of the department.
McDaniel approached the Wireless Internet Service Provider for the area, New Era Broadband, LLC, looking for a solution. According to David Hannum, of New Era Broadband, the company had recently expanded to nearby McKenzie Ridge, but because Bashan was in a low-lying area, the town was not able to receive the Internet signal. Through a collaborative effort between Connect Ohio’s technical outreach staff, a partial grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, the Meigs County Community Investment Corporation, New Era Broadband, and a few Bashan residents willing to have trees removed or equipment mounted on their property, Hannum was able to relay the Wi-Fi signal from one of their Access Point’s nearby to a receiver atop the fire department’s building. The relay system has worked well for the fire department for the past two years and also offers high-speed Internet access to a handful of nearby residences.
“Now, we can communicate with the State. Our firefighters are in compliance and staying in touch,” said McDaniel.
New Era Broadband is currently in the midst of upgrading services in the Bashan area, giving direct connection to the nearby Access Point and faster speeds of connectivity. This new system will continue to service the fire department, as well the homes in the community that desire service, which is about fifteen residences.
“The foresight and efforts of the residents of Bashan allowed them to have connectivity some two and a half years sooner than they would have been able to,” said Hannum.