Gov. Mike Parson attends a press conference at Chariton Valley’s headquarters in Macon to announce the grant. Courtesy of Chariton Valley.

MACON — Gov. Mike Parson announced that Chariton Valley, a communications provider, has received $897,191 in Emergency Broadband Investment as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help provide broadband services to parts of Chariton, Linn, Macon and Marion counties.

At a press conference at Chariton Valley’s headquarters in Macon on Wednesday, Gov. Parson emphasized the need to expand broadband to get education to kids and getting telemedicine to rural Missourians.

“Not only do we want to teach our kids, we also want to have telemedicine,” Parson said, according to the press release. “We want to be able to do healthcare in rural Missouri, that you have the same opportunity as anyone else does to be able to provide those services.”

Chief Executive Officer of Chariton Valley Kirby Underberg acknowledged how the pandemic heightened the need for broadband expansion to provide the best service to the company’s customers.

“In our current emergency state, we have learned that we can work, go to school, shop from our homes but it requires a fast reliable, affordable connection,” Underberg said in the news release.” “Chariton Valley’s vision is to provide premier services to enhance opportunities for rural communities, which we are doing by aggressively building fiber broadband across rural areas.”

According to the release, one of the areas funded includes parts of Brookfield. Becky Cleveland, the executive director of the Brookfield Area Growth Partnership, says the pandemic has taught the lesson that even when closed down, things can remain open with a broadband connection.

“When this black swan pandemic event is finally over — and it’s going to be over — I’m hopeful that history will report that the leaders of Chariton Valley in partnership with Missouri’s Governor Mike Parson did not pause and wait it out but listened, invested in more and better broadband and eliminated the rural-urban digital divide.”