Stu Johnson Presents at Ohio Appalachian Task Force

By Amanda Murphy

Connect Ohio had the privilege of joining the Ohio Appalachian Task Force meeting hosted by the Corporation for Ohio Appalachia Development (COAD) Wednesday, February 8, at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. Executive Director Stu Johnson discussed the current state of broadband and technology adoption for Appalachian Ohio. Johnson opened the presentation by asking the nearly twenty attendees if they had broadband service at home. Four attendees had no home Internet service and two had service that didn’t meet their needs, which parallels the situation for the entire Ohio Appalachia area. According to Connect Ohio’s recent Technology Barriers and Adoption in Rural Appalachian Ohio report, 14 counties in Ohio remain under 85 percent broadband availability – and all 14 counties are located in Appalachia Ohio

Only 55 percent of adults in the Appalachia area subscribe to home broadband service, significantly lower than the state average of 66 percent. Also, one in three children do not have broadband service at home. This adoption gap has significant implications for the economic, educational, and quality of life status of Ohioans.

In conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and Chesapeake Energy, Connect Ohio is administering the Connect Appalachia Broadband Initiative task force, comprised of state and local stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The task force has already begun taking immediate action to overcome connectivity barriers and digital literacy gaps in the Appalachia region, holding their inaugural meeting in January.

The Connect Appalachia Broadband Initiative task force intends to pull Appalachia Ohio to within state and national standards in broadband adoption within 24 months by responding to requests for assistance from community leaders, private industry, Internet providers, public agencies, and others on broadband projects. The task force is identifying and coordinating resources required to facilitate the availability of affordable broadband access and to drive adoption through equipment procurement assistance, as well as through free basic computer training through Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online program.

Current Task Force Members:

Task Force Co-Chairpersons

Jason Wilson, Director, Governor’s Office on Appalachia

Keith Fuller, Director of Corporate Development, Chesapeake Energy

Stu Johnson, Executive Director, Connect Ohio

Project Manager

Bart Winegar, Technical Outreach Manager, Connect Ohio

Committees and Committee Chairs

Government Affairs

Co-Chair – Katrina Flory, Executive Administrator, Ohio Office of Information Technology

Co-Chair – Marianne Townsend, Chief, Telecommunications, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

Jeanne Wilson, Sr. Appalachian Regional Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

Commerce –

Chair – Paul D. Prater, Community Affairs Manager, AEP Ohio & WV

Community Leaders

Chair- Tom Wheaton, Carroll County Commissioner

Gregory R. Carver, Columbiana County Knox Township Trustee Chairman


Chair – Joy Padgett, Director of Government Relations and Grants, Central Ohio Technical



Chair – David Nadler, SVP / Chief Risk Officer, Ohio Valley Bank

John Glazer, Director, TechGROWTH Ohio


Chair- Cara Dingus Brook, President/CEO, The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

Robin Kinny, Energy Committee Chair for Rural Action, Internet Committee member of Central Appalachia Regional Network

Ronald Rees, Executive Director, Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD)


Chair – Ken Engstrom, Fiber Sales Manager, Horizon Telecom

Ed Kozelek, Regional VP of Government Affairs, Time Warner Cable – CABLE Internet Service


David Weddell, CEO, Cueband – Wireless Internet Service Provider

Dave Davidson, SVP/GM of Ohio, Frontier Communications – Local Exchange Carrier

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