Friday, February 18, 2022

Attempts to Eliminate Gaps in Rural and Poor Areas:

$1.6B broadband initiative exempts DOT fee in 2022 Executive Budget

The state’s head of economic development assured lawmakers Wednesday the anticipated $1.6 billion investment in the governor’s budget to expand access to high-speed internet will be different from past broadband initiatives, exempting controversial fees to bridge the digital divide in rural and poor communities.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $1.6 billion ConnectAll Initiative — one of 232 proposals in her $216 billion executive budget — will invest $1 billion in new digital infrastructure, capital investments, regulatory reforms and digital access programs to give New Yorkers more high-speed internet coverage in rural areas and more affordable competition in urban neighborhoods.

The state Public Service Commission is expected to release a Broadband Assessment Program survey in May providing granular statewide data to high-speed internet access for the first time.
 
“We’re going to have better data, so we’ll be able to better understand how to deploy the broadband infrastructure more effectively,” Empire State Development President & CEO Hope Knight told senators and assemblymembers during their annual budget hearing on economic development. Wednesday marked the final day of 13 joint legislative budget hearings held since last month.

All fees will be exempt in projects funded under ConnectAll, including the state Department of Transportation’s lofty fees to installers who build fiber optic broadband cables in a state-controlled highway right-of-way implemented in 2020. The fees amass to hundreds of dollars per foot, increasing the total cost of some projects by millions of dollars, which led utility companies to reroute buildouts to avoid state-owned rights-of-way — exacerbating hurdles to expand access.

“In deploying a broadband, we understand that it’s very expensive to deploy rural projects,” Knight said. “That was one of the drivers of exempting the fee under the ConnectAll.” Small or mid-sized family-owned providers have canceled broadband expansion projects because of the fee. Empire State Development has not conducted an analysis about the fee and its potential economic impacts.

Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, pleaded with Knight to advocate to legislative leaders and Democrats in the majority to eliminate the fee altogether and have the department investigate the effects of the DOT’s requirement.

“So what you’re saying is, if you’re taking government money, then we will exempt you, but if you’re just paying your own way, we won’t exempt you,” Borrello said. “That’s why you have all these projects that have been scaled back or canceled where they’re redrawing lines so they avoid state rights-of-way in the rural areas that I represent. That’s a big problem.”

ConnectAll is expected to assist in removing barriers for underserved areas receiving high-speed broadband including fee exemptions for rural deployments, standardizing processes for state land and rights-of-way deployments and addressing issues in serving multiple-dwelling units, according to the executive budget.

Assemblyman Al Stirpe, D-North Syracuse, noted the state’s past investments in broadband before, including the $500 million Broadband For All initiative under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which improved internet connectivity across the state with grants and incentives to utility companies, but gaps in access persist in rural or poor areas.

“What we got were a lot of reports that said everything was great, and as we all knew, that wasn’t really true,” Stirpe said. “Rural and urban areas continue to have lots and lots of problems.” About 1 million New Yorkers are estimated to lack high-speed internet connection at home, according to a September report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.

Lawmakers challenged Knight about why this proposal will be different.

“We were working with the best data that we had, but the data was not great,” she said. The PSC’s survey this spring is expected to include a detailed map of the state’s broadband access and conduct a comprehensive study on New York’s high-speed internet availability, reliability, cost and the number and types of internet service providers available in each area including dial-up, broadband, wireless, fiber, coaxial or satellite. The report is expected to provide statewide granular broadband data for the first time.

“So we’ll be able to understand better how to penetrate the state more with this investment,” Knight said, adding Hochul’s proposed $1.6 billion ConnectAll initiative is the state’s largest investment in digital infrastructure. “The funding will get us greater coverage across the state, and then, we’ll be able to take much more of a holistic approach,” she added. The $500 million Broadband For All program was not enough to provide broadband connectivity throughout the state, Knight said.

Empire State Development officials will also pursue ways to expand municipalities providing broadband services. The state is also set to receive $800 million in federal funding for broadband buildouts from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden in November.

Sen. John Liu, D-Queens, questioned why, with the incoming large federal investment, the state should commit a multi-billion-dollar investment for broadband from the state’s coffers. The budget includes $300 million under the ConnectAll Initiative to administer the program, grants, rural broadband deployment and access to state-owned rights-of-way, last-mile support and more financed with state taxpayer funds.

The initiative’s remaining investment will come from prior federal COVID-19 relief funds, Knight said. Priority will be given to projects that will bring high-speed internet to unserved areas, public libraries and education centers.

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org

W. PETE MAIRS

W. PETE MAIRS
Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.

GERALD C. SAHRLE

GERALD C. SAHRLE
Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")
"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.

BRENDA J. PADDOCK

BRENDA J. PADDOCK
Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

AUGUST 4-7, 2022

AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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