The Mills Town Council on Monday voted to request a $200,000 grant for federal coronavirus relief money for fiber optic cable to town buildings, the town's community development director said Thursday.

"The main thing that we want to do with all of it is switch with all the Zoom meetings, and online meetings and keep our residents informed," Sabrina Foreman said.

The town tries to keep residents informed though social media and other means, but it's not enough, Foreman said.

"We're hoping to stream our council meetings and work sessions so that those residents who don't feel like they want to get out that they can still have input to those meetings, and try to keep the community safe," she said.

"We were seeking to run fiber because we have wireless communication right now, and for the most part it works," Foreman said.
The fiber optic cable would be a redundant system if the town's wireless capabilities failed, and that has happened, she said.

The town applied for the Coronavirus Relief Grant through the State Loan and Investment Board, which is overseeing Wyoming's portion of $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act -- CARES Act, according to Foreman and the agenda for a special meeting held Monday.

The Wyoming Legislature allocated $175 million of that to local governments.

The infrastructure aspect of the fiber optic cable is allowed under CARES Act allocations, Foreman said. "Our buildings aren't connected the way they would be if we had fiber, so it's more secure."

The $200,000 figure for the fiber optic work was recommended by a person in the town's information technology department, she said.

The town submitted the application to the Office of State Lands and Investments, its staff will review it, and if it passes muster the office will forward it to the State Loan and Investment Board for consideration and possible approval, Foreman said. The SLIB is composed of the five statewide elected officials: governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor and superintendent of public instruction.

The SLIB has scheduled a meeting on Aug. 6 to consider the application from Mills and other local governments, but Foreman said the volume of requests may move the meeting forward.

If the SLIB approves the grant, the town will need to take bids and start work immediately because the project must be completed by Dec. 31, she said.

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