The company bringing broadband to rural areas of Moody County has purchased property on Pipestone Avenue for its local office.
Valley FiberCom of Volga will build an office for a customer service representative and a service technician at the corner of Pipestone and Crescent Street. The company will need the building to be enclosed and a working room for its electronics and fiber optics by December and will open for business sometime next year, said Jeff Symens, CEO and general manager Valley FiberCom and Valley Telecommunications.
The company paid $25,000 for the property purchased from Pat Powers and Paul Powers. The site was formerly a gas station and has been a vacant lot for years.
Symens said construction on the new building in Flandreau will include new curb and gutter and a structure that goes north to the Maynard’s grocery store parking lot and west to property owned by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. The company is negotiating with a contractor and will get building permits before starting work.
The building will have several windows and a brick face on two sides.
“We’re excited to get there,” Symens said.
Valley FiberCom of Volga has plans to lay 763 miles of fiber in rural areas of Moody, Brookings and Kingsbury counties in 2021. The project’s total expense, which will not cost customers for laying the lines, is nearly $12.8 million, paid by a ReConnect grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Valley FiberCom, which is part of Valley Telecommunications Cooperative of Herreid, will match the remainder of the cost not covered by the grant.
The project is expected to broadband service to 4,463 rural South Dakotans. Residents in rural areas of Moody County say there is a need for more reliable service and say that they can’t get internet service or that coverage is spotty.
Families who have had to use an internet connection for school have said that current service is so poor that only one person can be online at a time.
“We found a lot of people had to take our service for that,” Symens said. “That’s one thing fiber brings, is consistency along with high speeds.”
Rural Moody County has 350 residences, farms and businesses that will eligible to receive fiber-based broadband services. Others close to the service locations may also be able to use the system, Symens said.
While that large-scale project is planned to begin next spring, a smaller project east of Flandreau will hook up about 70 customers, including Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Housing and the Pleasant Valley Hutterite Colony. That project is paid in part with about a $450,000 state grant, plus a company match, and needs to be completed by the end of 2020.