Senator Casey visits Mapletown

By Elisa Clark and Timothy Cumberland
April 9, 2018

GREENSBORO – According to state internet standards, broadband is available all across Pennsylvania. However, some rural areas in The Keystone State have lagging access speeds.

On April 4, 2018 U.S. Senator Bob Casey stopped at Mapletown to get opinions from school staff, students, local officials, and members of the community about the internet issues in Greene County.

Senator Casey toured the school, observed students using computers and the internet for class projects, and then hosted a round table discussion in the Media Center.

Local State Representative Pam Snyder also attended and added input during the discussion.

Mapletown Messenger Reporter Timothy Cumberland asked the senator a few questions to clear up any misconceptions.

Cumberland with Senator Casey

How do you plan to keep funds for “Connect America in PA?”

Casey: “There will be no guarantees.”

Why hasn’t there been anything done about internet speeds before?”

Casey: “There were not enough funds, or there were bigger issues that we had to attend to.”

How beneficial do you think the internet will be to our county?

Casey: “It will benefit everyone from students to businesses and more.”

Will there be any costs/ burdens on residents/ taxpayers?

Casey: “No, it will be federal dollars, not taxpayer dollars.”

Advances in internet technology are being made faster than when the state standards were set thirteen years ago. Netflix recommends a five megabits per second download speed to stream in high-definition. Demand only grows with other users in a home, school, or business simultaneously using social media, browsing web pages, or streaming video to more than one device.

Pictured L-R: Board Member Janet Pennington, Superintendent Rich Pekar, Senator Bob Casey, State Rep. Pam Snyder, Teacher Mr. Mlay, Parent Linda Helmick

In 2016, U.S. Senator Bob Casey released a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, Tom Wheeler, calling on the agency to adopt the recommendation of the PA Public Utility Commission to keep “Connect America” Phase II funds. These funds were initially allotted to Pennsylvania but declined by a carrier within the state to expand rural broadband for Pennsylvanians who need it most.

Several issues were been brought up that had a great impact on Mapletown Jr./Sr High School.

Two senior students, Madison and Morgan Helmick, voiced concerns over not being able to access class assignments and/or have the ability to watch educational videos that were assigned to them. Without internet, they can’t get their schoolwork done.

Students Madison and Morgan Helmick

Teachers also struggle with the lack of internet connection. Mr. Mlay, the computer teacher, said he has difficulties trying to access his files for work. It has made it very frustrating for work to be done on time without the appropriate internet connection speeds.

However, for a solution, Senator Casey reassured attendees at the discussion that the issue should be solved by 2022 or sooner.





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