Gary Scherer

Gary Scherer, Pickaway County Commissioner, at the Charter Communications announcement this week in Tarlton.

TARLTON — Charter Communications, the parent company of Spectrum, has announced their expanded services to previously unserved portions of Pickaway and surrounding counties.

The television, internet and phone service provider recently completed service upgrades that allow customers across the state, including Pickaway County to receive higher internet speeds and increased access to those speeds for rural communities, like Tarlton.

The project was completed with entirely private funding by the company and is independent of House Bill 2, which was approved recently to provide public funding to the expansion of services.

Gary Underwood, regional vice president of government affairs for Charter Communications, called the upgrades a long time coming.

“Customers here have had video services here and we’ve had broadband expansion using private capital, money we’ve put at the risk for this community,” he said.

“We wanted to bring more broadband choice to this community and now, thanks to that investment, we are proud to now have gigabit service, the same service you’d have in any community in Ohio and any community spectrum serves, no matter how large or small.”

As part of the work that began in 2020, more than 1,300 homes and small businesses in the area were connected to advanced services. In March of this year, 112,000 unserved Ohio homes had access as part of the $556 million in investments.

In early 2020, local officials held a meeting to hear the picture of what was offered in Pickaway County and found that the people who reported, said they couldn’t access high-speed internet either due to cost or lack of service, even though some of the service maps showed they could get service. The investments made by Spectrum aim to solve those problems.

Crystal Moody, owner of Crosstown Creamery in Tarlton, shared how the access to high-speed internet will impact the village.

“Internet is important to us to expand our business, but also to bring new businesses into town,” she said. “We’re really appreciative of everyone whose had a hand in bringing this and thinking of rural communities. We’re now able to connect with not only our community, but outward communities through social media and online ordering.”

Moody said there are a couple new businesses coming to Tarlton who did most of their previous business online through sources like Etsy.

“They came to us with an idea of a retail store and warehouse,” she said. “Having broadband in the area will help with that.”

Many local officials were on hand to celebrate the expansion of services and sharing how that will impact lives in rural communities.

State Senator Bob Peterson, R-17, said the expansion would change lives for people in the rural areas.

“When you think about the ability to sit in a cabin on top of a hill with internet connections, why in the world would you want to drive to Columbus…and work in a downtown office building when you can look out over the scenery of the Hocking Hills,” he said.

“My father can very vividly remember the day when the electric company came down his road putting in electric poles when he was six or seven years old and electrified their house for the first time. That’s the dramatic change that will come as this comes into rural communities.”

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-20, called the internet “the economic super highway of the present.”

“If you’re not on the internet, you’re not part of the economy,” he said. “In our part of the state, Southeastern Ohio, this will be responsible for so many families advancing, small businesses growing and stabilizing and adding jobs to the economy. This builds assets and capital and that’s the secret to the economy for the next generation and the generation after that. This development today will be so critical for thousands of families and small businesses.”

State Representative Mark Johnson R-92, shared about his background in the construction industry and when people are looking to build one of the first things they ask about is broadband availability.

“If you don’t have broadband, along with a lot of other infrastructure elements, they’re going to talk a walk and leave our state and go to another community,” he said. “This is a big deal. Like the electrification of the 1920s the rural areas were the last to get it and this is the same way. That’s what we’re working on today.”

State Representative Brian Stewart, R-78, said the need for increased speed has been there for years, especially with the growth of online education, telemedicine and working online.

“This investment will change people’s lives,” he said. “Think about all the ways that being connected to the internet improves your quality of life. We talk about life liberty and pursuit of happiness. Part of my pursuit of happiness is being able to watch the Sopranos, being able to plan vacations and download pictures of family and friends and connecting with them of Facebook. These quality of life things the people of Tarlton and other communities have not been able to enjoy. That’s what Spectrum is bringing to this community.”

Stewart also acknowledged the Moody family for their efforts to try to get broadband into the Tarlton community.

“They’ve put their money, blood, sweat and tears into this,” he said.

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