BLANDFORD, Mass. ( – State and local leaders visited Blandford Thursday to observe a “core bore,” for the drilling required to replace outdated utility poles and install broadband internet.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined Sen. Adam Hinds, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, Blandford Select Board member Eric McVey and other local leaders.

Blandford was awarded a Last Mile Infrastructure Grant worth $1.04 million in 2018 to deliver broadband access to residents.

Following the demonstration, Governor Baker announced supplemental funding for the Last Mile Program, which will cover roughly half the cost of connecting homeowners to newly installed networks in 21 eligible communities.

The Baker-Polito Administration re-launched the Last Mile Program in 2016 with the aim of delivering broadband access to all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, funded by a 2017 capital bond authorization worth $45 million. Since its re-launch, all previously unserved and partially served towns have either built, began construction, or are planning internet solutions with the financial and logistical support of the Administration.

“For schools for businesses for families for everyone,” Gov. Baker told 22News. “This is a fundamental part of how people live their lives and do their work.”

Gov. Baker announced an extra $5 million for the project. Lt. Gov. Polito said broadband access isn’t a luxury, it’s an economic necessity.

“There may be older adults that want to move from their home but to market it and sell it is virtually impossible without a broadband connection to a younger family or an individual,” Polito told 22News.

Baker said high-speed internet will bring rural students to the same level as those in more populated areas.

He added, “These are wonderful places to live but if you can’t actually do your work or you can’t do your schoolwork or you can’t run your business the way you would choose to run it without high-speed internet it’s a problem that’s got to get fixed.”

Blandford residents are excited to have high-speed broadband.

Linda Smith of Blandford said, “If they are done in a thoughtful manner of respect for what was, what is, and what we would like to see for perpetuity.”

The governor came to Blandford to watch workers switch out utility poles for poles carrying broadband. The Last Mile project started in 2018 with a $1 million grant to bring broadband to Blandford.

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