Local News

St. Landry Gets the Broadband Check Despite Harris’ Sunset Cancellation

BOBBY ARDOIN
Contributing Writer

The vice-president may have canceled her appearance in Sunset, but money St. Landry Parish is receiving for increased broadband access is no longer a promissory note.

Parish president Jessie Bellard said St. Landry has been given its share of the $50 million broadband expansion funding that vice-president Kamala Harris was scheduled to ceremoniously deliver during a presentation ceremony on Friday.

Bellard said the parish is obtaining about two-thirds of the total federal spending package that also affects widened broadband connectivity in Acadia and Evangeline parishes.

“The money was sent to us through (U.S. Senator) John Kennedy’s Office. We learned on Thursday night that the vice-president wasn’t coming (to the parish). That’s not surprising considering what’s going on around the world right now,” Bellard said.

Harris appeared on Friday with President Joe Biden during a press conference that introduced Ketanji Brown Jackson as his U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Bellard said the planned event for Sunset was tightly controlled.

“I couldn’t even bring any of my staff or members of the Council. I had a lot of people calling the office asking to help them get credentials, but I couldn’t help them,” Bellard said.

Federal funding for broadband will be used in several areas of St. Landry that are currently lacking sufficient internet service, Bellard said.

“There will be work done in the Eunice area, coming in through Acadia Parish. There are also plans to lay more cable down in the Cankton, Arnaudville and Leonville areas,” according to Bellard.

Bellard said Acadia has what he described as “decent service,” but there are sections in the eastern part of that parish that require upgrades.

St, Landry, Bellard added, has benefitted from the need to extend more service to Evangeline Parish customers.

Allen Cable Company and LUS Fiber have successfully bid to become the lead companies for the broadband extensions and both have provided some private capital to launch the project, said Bellard.