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Texas County Communities Hero Newv2

Wheeler County Texas


The Wheeler County Broadband Team has completed its community technology assessment. The results of the assessment can be found by clicking the symbol for each of the sections below. The Solutions sector includes recommended actions the community can implement to improve the broadband and technology ecosystem at a local level. It should be noted that the assessment was conducted during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This worldwide event likely impacted many of the metrics included in this assessment.

Connected Infrastructure in Wheeler County, Texas

Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.

Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over phone line, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution. From a single location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.

The following interactive map shows where broadband is available in the area.

Recommended Actions

To ensure the success of the community action plan and to equip Donley and Wheeler Counties with the necessary tools for broadband growth, the communities will centralize broadband expansion and improvement efforts in a single entity: a broadband liaison. Ideally this broadband liaison will 1) promote broadband and technology access, adoption, and use; 2) serve as the go-to resource for broadband and technology needs; 3) seek ways to educate and empower the community regarding broadband and related technology; 4) take priority action on recommendations from the community action plan and implement other programs that are necessary and beneficial to the growth of the community; 5) monitor federal grant applications and expenditures. Donley and Wheeler Counties should each appoint a broadband liaison. The Commissioners Court in each County will need to independently appoint a specific individual as liaison to ensure he/she has full power to act on behalf of each county on matters pertaining to broadband, funding, and community partnerships. Donley and Wheeler Counties, while similar, have unique broadband needs that highlight the importance of a county-specific broadband liaison.

Should Donley and Wheeler Counties be unable to appoint individual broadband liaisons, the communities should pursue appointment of a joint staffer to serve in this capacity. Community-specific leadership is the primary goal with dual-county partnership serving as an alternative.

Ultimately, it should be noted that both Donley and Wheeler Counties will find it very difficult to achieve broadband advancement and implement the goals set forth in this action plan without first identifying community leadership. Without a broadband liaison to serve as the tactical lead on broadband projects, both Donley and Wheeler Counties will struggle with organization and a clear infrastructure development plan.


Designate a local leader to oversee broadband improvement projects, grant applications, and community relations with internet service providers in Donley and Wheeler Counties.


Action 1 – The Commissioners Court in Donley County and Wheeler County should appoint broadband liaisons- one for each community. The broadband liaison will serve each county on broadband matters. The liaison should be knowledgeable on broadband, understand the demographics of Donley or Wheeler County, and be prepared to work collaboratively with community organizations. The liaison should receive appointment, or approval, from the Commissioners Court. It is important for the local government to take ownership in this appointment as the liaison will be the leading voice and decision-maker on broadband matters.

Officials who should appoint the broadband liaisons:

Donley County:

  • Judge John C. Howard
  • Commissioners Mark White, Daniel Ford, Neil Koetting, and Dan Sawyer

Wheeler County:

  • Judge Carol Porton
  • Commissioners Jackie Don May Jr, Robert Hink, David Simpson, and John Walker

Action 2 –   Community leaders should identify an agreed-upon list of duties for which the broadband liaison will be responsible in his/her official capacity. The liaison should establish an office in the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The EDC already conducts critical work in each community, connecting residents to vital resources and promoting economic opportunities.

Responsibilities of the broadband liaison could include:

  • Serve as the go-to resource for broadband information within the immediate community
  • Educate county leaders and residents on broadband programs, opportunities, and benefits
  • Monitor grant expenditures within county; report concerns to Commissioners Court
  • Stay up to date on current broadband grant programs at the state and federal level and apply to programs as they become available (see the Internet Society and Connected Nation references below)
  • Work with community organizations and internet service providers on broadband initiatives

Action 3- The broadband liaison should identify county stakeholders and representatives from regional organizations and broadband providers who can augment his/her work as the central authority on broadband. These partnerships should be used to further the community’s broadband agenda and ensure this action plan is adopted in a timely fashion.

Community stakeholders and regional organizations:

  • The High Ground of Texas
  • Panhandle Regional Planning Commission
  • EDCs: Clarendon EDC, Wheeler County EDC, Shamrock EDC
  • Chambers of Commerce: Clarendon, Donley, Shamrock
  • Donley Emergency Management
  • Clarendon College
  • Other “Connected” communities in the Panhandle Region: Hall County, others to come
  • Internet Service Providers

Action 3 - The liaisons from Donley and Wheeler Counties should meet at least once a month to discuss ongoing broadband projects in each community. It is paramount that Donley and Wheeler Counties recognize the value of partnership in the broadband sphere. Broadband expansion and improvement projects can be expensive, time-consuming, and competitive, making a dual-county partnership valuable for all parties. Not only will the partnership be marketable to broadband providers, but it will bolster general broadband opportunities.

Responsible Parties

Local units of government; Broadband providers; Community and regional organizations


Donley and Wheeler County officials should convene within six weeks of this action plan to discuss appointment of a broadband liaison for each county. The liaisons should be appointed within 14 weeks of this plan.


Texas Broadband Providers by County

Wheeler EDC:

Clarendon EDC

Current Broadband Funding

In partnership with the Connected Program, Donley and Wheeler Counties collected surveys from residents, business owners, government officials, and other community stakeholders over the course of multiple months. These surveys collected data about the internet needs and wants of residents and evaluated rates of broadband access, adoption, and use among key community sectors. Results of the survey in both counties indicate a need for affordable high-speed internet that supports telework and general community communications. Fifty-three percent of employed Donley County respondents indicate they telework, with another 13% indicating they own or operate a business from home. In Wheeler County, 61% of employed respondents indicate they telework, with an additional 6% indicating they own or operate a business from their home. In both communities, the leading reasons for dissatisfaction with internet service were slow speeds and unreliable connections. The preceding survey results indicate residents in both communities have a strong desire and need to be digitally engaged, but currently have barriers. Without the proper broadband infrastructure, Donley and Wheeler Counties will be unable to support the digital needs and wants of residents now and in the future. Through improvement projects and strategic partnerships, Donley and Wheeler Counties can bring affordable and reliable broadband to residents.


Increase broadband access, adoption, and use in Donley and Wheeler Counties through broadband improvement projects and strategic community partnerships.


Action 1 – To effectively understand the current broadband funding landscape in Donley and Wheeler Counties, the broadband liaisons should meet with internet service providers (ISPs) who have already been allocated federal money, including recipients of funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).  Additionally, the liaisons should meet with local ISPs to assess the status of ongoing or upcoming infrastructure improvement and expansion projects. As Donley and Wheeler Counties consider expanding and improving broadband infrastructure, the goal should be to pursue strategic projects that are not needlessly redundant (i.e., expand access where RDOF winners are already working).


Resound Networks – 867 location - $2,724,120.00

Resound Networks – 169 locations - $575,116.60

Action 1a* – If Donley County is interested in pursuing conversation with Guggenheim Partners, the broadband liaison should set up a meeting with the company’s representative, Taylor Harrington. Guggenheim Partners is a global investment and advisory financial services firm. More information is available on their website; see the link in the below references.  Guggenheim Partners expressed interest in learning more about Donley County in May and offered to discuss further details via a Zoom meeting.

Please contact your Broadband Solutions Manager at CN Texas for specific information to contact Guggenheim Partners.

Action 2 –   During meetings with providers, the broadband liaisons should discuss the role the counties- or a city- could play through financial backing or strategic partnerships to speed up project completion, ensure project completion, or start a new project altogether. Ultimately, Donley and Wheeler Counties should play a strategic role in ongoing or planned projects that will widely benefit the most residents.

Donley County has been allocated $636,713.00 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, and Wheeler County has been allocated $982,069.00. While neither county must make any decisions about spending these funds until the Treasury Department issues final rules, it is important for the communities, through the broadband liaisons, to begin building relationships with local providers in preparation for passage of those final rules.

Action 3- After taking stock of broadband initiatives in each county, the broadband liaisons should identify applicable grants to expand broadband access, adoption, and use. Grants may provide funding for broadband infrastructure or digital literacy and digital skills expansion. Current grant openings can be found on the Connected Nation and BroadbandUSA websites. Links can be found in the resources section.

Responsible Parties

Local units of government; Broadband providers; Community and regional organizations


The broadband liaisons and community stakeholders should begin meeting with internet service providers within three months of receiving this plan. While the counties do not have to allocate funding or spend federal dollars within that same three months, they should outline the scope of broadband infrastructure projects (ongoing and planned) within that timeline.


Guide to Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities in the U.S.

Current Broadband Funding

BroadbandUSA: Federal Funding Guide

Guggenheim Partners

For those unfamiliar with the term, digital literacy seems like a complex concept. Put simply, it is an individual’s ability to interact and exchange information via digital platforms efficiently and successfully. As the name suggests, digital literacy necessitates a level of competency and skill. Digital literacy then is an understanding of the digital environment and all the software, social media platforms, and lingo that come along with it. For rural Americans, digital literacy can be stunted by many things including lack of devices, engagement opportunities, and general infrastructure. By providing training workshops focused on digital readiness and inclusion, a community can equip its citizens for digital immersion and advancement for the here and now and into the future. Digital literacy and inclusion focus not just on access to devices and broadband internet, but the skills and ability needed to engage on these platforms. It is important for community residents and leaders to be digitally engaged to stay informed and connected.


Implement digital literacy and digital skills workshops in each community with an emphasis on social media and website skills/training to ensure all residents and community leaders are equipped to access and use digital devices and services.


Action 1 – Not only should residents feel comfortable engaging online, but they should seek out the benefits offered by online platforms and tools. As such, the aforementioned broadband liaisons should identify regional and community partners who possess resources and expertise in producing free digital literacy and digital skills workshops. Workshops should address topics ranging from workforce skills to online safety. The intention is to equip residents and community leaders with the digital skills necessary to engage online.

Workshop topics to consider:

  • Navigating social media
  • How to use Microsoft Office Suite
  • Online safety tips and tricks
  • How to teleconference

Community partners to consider:

  • Community institutions and businesses who would directly benefit from greater online engagement (i.e., banks, telehealth providers, online schools)
  • Libraries: G.B. Burton Memorial Library, Wheeler Public Library, Shamrock Community Library
  • IT Directors: School and County level
  • Broadband Providers
  • The High Ground of Texas
  • Panhandle Regional Planning Commission
  • EDCs: Clarendon EDC, Wheeler County EDC, Shamrock EDC
  • Chambers of Commerce: Clarendon, Wheeler, Shamrock

Action 2 - Curriculum should be developed using publicly available programs, such as those offered by AARP, Digital Learn, and Drive (resources linked below), and county-sourced information. Workshops should take place at local facilities, such as the library or school gym, and be promoted through local media.

Media outlets for marketing:

  • County Star-News
  • Legends 92.9/Legends 98.9
  • KSLR Radio
  • The Clarendon Enterprise

Action 3- The broadband liaisons should identify community partners for the workshops. Partners can include financial supporters, guest speakers/presenters, and curriculum developers. Specifically, the broadband liaisons should consider inviting ISPs to sponsor or attend the workshop, as a successful community event could translate to more business for the provider. Additionally, the liaisons should utilize public officials (i.e., police officers) and local businessowners to lead workshops on topics such as cybersecurity and social media. The digital engagement workshops should be a community effort. Not only should the curriculum meet the needs of the residents and community leaders, but residents and leaders should likewise contribute content and resources according to their specialty within the community.

Responsible Parties

Media outlets; Broadband providers; Community anchor institutions: schools; libraries; Local units of government


Donley and Wheeler Counties should implement digital inclusion and literacy programs by the end of 2021. Curriculum building and resource gathering can begin immediately to ensure a timely start to community workshops. Every six months, the community should evaluate the status of available curricula to determine if updates are needed.


Texas Broadband Providers by County

The complete guide to digital skills

AARP Joins with Nonprofit to Teach Tech to Older Adults

Digital Learn: Use a computer to do almost anything!