U.S. Sen. Cornyn hears from East Texas leaders, Longview middle school student during broadband roundtable

U.S. Sen. Cornyn joins East Texas leaders for broadband roundtable
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 7:59 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) participated in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday in Tyler. Cornyn heard from regional leaders, health care providers, educators, and economic development officials at the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital.

“No longer is access to the internet a convenience,” Cornyn said. “It really is a necessity.”

The roundtable highlighted the challenges of limited broadband access that many East Texas communities experience and how Sen. Cornyn’s current legislation would allow local leaders to use unspent COVID-19 relief funds for regional projects like expanding broadband and infrastructure.

Cornyn said the legislation could unlock up to $225 million in unspent COVID aid for 34 East Texas counties.

“These funds can be used for local infrastructure, broadband, and disaster relief priorities,” stated a news release.

Roundtable participants shared how broadband access impacts education, health care, and economic development and emphasized the importance of bridging the digital divide.

And while the discussion included many familiar East Texas faces, a seventh grade student may have had the best seat in the house.

“I’ve never been that close or shook hands with somebody that important,” said Jordan Nash, a 7th grade student at Longview’s Foster Middle School.

Nash spoke on the impact of connectivity when it comes to education and the future.

U.S. Sen. Cornyn joins East Texas leaders for broadband roundtable
U.S. Sen. Cornyn joins East Texas leaders for broadband roundtable(Blake Holland KLTV.)

Cornyn compared expanding broadband access to rural electrification.

“It wasn’t that long ago, maybe the 1950s, where people didn’t have access to electricity, and this is just another electronic connection,” Cornyn said. “To me, that’s a useful way to think about it. We overcame that deficit and that lack of connectivity back then, and we can do this now.”

Those attending the roundtable included:

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran

Newton County Judge Kenneth Weeks

Chris Glenney, SVP Group Operations, CHRISTUS Health Northeast Texas

Jason Proctor, President, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital

David Cleveland, Executive Director, East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG)

Dr. James Wilcox, Superintendent, Longview ISD

Jordan Nash, 7th grade student, Foster Middle School (LISD)

Lonnie Hunt, Executive Director, Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG)

Mickey Slimp, Broadband Project Manager/Consultant, Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG)

Chris Brown, Executive Director, Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG)

Dr. Timothy Barker, System Medical Director CMIO Ambulatory Care, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic

Dr. Roy “Brent” Wadle, VP Physician Operations, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic

Duncan McAdoo, President, Prosperity Bank, Winnsboro

WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE: Cornyn took questions from reporters after the roundtable.

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