Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board members learned at their May 9 meeting that MRPC will embark on a new phase of planning for the MoBroadbandNow initiative within the region.

Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board members learned at their May 9 meeting that MRPC will embark on a new phase of planning for the MoBroadbandNow  initiative within the region.

MRPC has worked with the MoBroadbandNow initiative, which aims to increase broadband Internet availability throughout Missouri, since 2011.

As one of the initiative’s Regional Technology Planning Teams (RTPTs), MRPC has assisted in identifying the broadband needs in the eight-county Meramec region.

During this next phase of the initiative, MRPC will hold stakeholder meetings with individuals involved in health care and agri-tourism in an effort to identify broadband needs in these two economic sectors.

Some aspects the stakeholders will examine will include availability, affordability and adoption – usage when available – of broadband Internet services as it relates to health care and agri-tourism.

The initiative’s findings from phase one indicate only 63 percent of Missouri residents in rural areas, like the Meramec region, have adopted broadband Internet.

The findings also indicate a lack of access to broadband Internet services in rural areas. The initiative has defined broadband Internet service as a connection with at least 3 Mbps download speed.

One discussion point in the next series of stakeholder meetings for individuals involved in health care will be telemedicine, which is one of the initiative’s objectives. A connection speed of at least 10 Mbps is the base-level connection necessary for telemedicine.

According to MoBroadbandNow’s phase one findings, that connection speed is available to fewer than 70 percent of Missouri’s rural areas.

Individuals working in health care or agriculture who are interested in participating in stakeholder meetings may contact MRPC Community Development Specialist Lyle Thomas at 573-265-2993 or

In other business, the board:

• Approved a slate of officers for the MRPC board for the upcoming fiscal year. The MRPC officers will remain the same for fiscal year 13-14 with Salem Mayor Gary Brown as chairman, Potosi Mayor T.R. Dudley as vice-chairman, MRPC at-large representative for the unemployed Mary Heywood as secretary and Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze as treasurer.

Meramec Regional Building Corp. officers for the upcoming fiscal year will also remain the same with Doolittle Mayor Paul Smith as chairman, Crawford County Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders as vice-chairman and Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles as secretary.

• Appointed Marcus Maggard and Janet Walker to the MRPC Executive Committee.

• Re-appointed Don Brackhahn, Earl Brown and Marcus Maggard as at-large representatives to the MRPC board. Brackhahn represents seniors, while Brown represents the disabled and Maggard represents tourism.

• Re-appointed Jim Grebing, of Hermann, to the Meramec Regional Community Foundation board.

• Learned that the United States Geological Survey will fly the state for aerial photography, and cities and counties may make arrangements with the agency to secure a quote for higher resolution images for their jurisdictions.

• Learned about a workshop that will take place at MRPC designed to teach local governments about the Affordable Health Care Act and how it affects government entities as employers. Representatives from the Missouri Foundation For Health and BPJ Insurance, of Springfield, will be speaking and available for questions during the workshop.

• Learned that Dr. Joan Schuman’s engineering management class is searching for a host community for the fall 2013 semester.