On Monday, Simpson County Judge/Executive Mason Barnes and representatives from Warren Rural Electric Cooperative and Franklin Electric Plant Board announced a partnership to allow reliable high-speed fiber optic internet in parts of Simpson County as part of a pilot program.

"This pilot area may well determine the future of broad band internet for all of rural Simpson County and I am expecting and counting on those in the pilot area to step-up big on this," Barnes said.

The fiber system has been implemented in the city limits since 2017 when Franklin EPB started contacting residential customers in their service area, he said.

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Barnes said during his 2018 campaign it became apparent that having good reliable high-speed internet service was on the minds of a majority of Simpson County rural residents.

"I am very thankful that both the EPB and WRECC were wiling to meet with me to discuss this issue and explore possibilities," Barnes said. "I am extremely proud of the work and commitment on behalf of both companies to make this happen."

Interim President and CEO of Warren RECC Dewayne McDonald said partnering with Franklin EPB continued their mission statement to improve the quality of life for their members.

"This collaboration allows each company to leverage our strengths to meet our members needs," McDonald said.

Franklin EPB General Manager Bill Borders said they were excited to be able to bring fiber to the homes of Simpson County residents.

"We had hoped from the beginning to bring this out into Simpson County much as was made available to all the EPB customers and we are finishing up that build out here in the next couple of weeks," Borders said.

Franklin EPB and Warren RECC are conducting the pilot effort to determine if they are able to provide fiber services in a manor that covers the member's cost, McDonald said.

"I am excited for the people of Simpson County and I am counting on those in the pilot area to make this project grow county wide," Barnes said. "For the folks in that pilot area, you may be the ones who decide if the rest of our friends and neighbors in Simpson County are going to be able to have the rural fiber internet to home."

Barnes went on to thank every employee from the plant board and the coop board who participated in making the collaboration happen.

For more information or to find out if you are eligible for service in the pilot area, visit www.wrecc.com/franklin-internet/.

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