Nit-Noi Ricker / Fox Bangor
ISLESFORD – A United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant has connected three small Maine islands – Great Cranberry, Little Cranberry and Sutton – to the world by helping connect them to high-speed internet.
“The USDA has seen their way to investing in broadband for one of Maine’s remote island communities,” said Rob Snyder, president of The Island Institute.
A $1.3 million USDA Rural Development Community Connect grant was used to build a high-speed fiber and wireless connection for residents.
“Our mission really is to help rural communities across the county, whether we’re here in Maine or we’re as far on the west coast as Washington state, to build prosperity,” said Anne Hazlett, assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.
“Nothing changes a community in the same manner as broadband access,” she added later.
Isleford, a small fishing and artist village on Little Cranberry Island, had internet before, but it wasn’t reliable.
“With the last internet company, it would take days to process my husband’s paperwork for his fishing business and now we are able to do things within moments,” said Cari Alley, a co-op employee and town employee.
Before, the library was the only place to access a wireless connection.
“They would sit out front in their cars to use the internet, especially when the other company went down,” said Cindy Thomas, the town librarian.
With the old system, Alley couldn’t even print.
“I have to go and buy a printer now because I can actually print things from home,” she said. “Before I would have to go and call the town office and say, ‘Hey can I send you a document.’”
Now her kids can take on-line classes and use YouTube to look up tutorials.
“It’s brought a little bit of joy to our lives,” Alley said. “It’s a pretty simplistically lifestyle out here so it’s nice to have something modern, like the rest of America.”