Madison will be the next to join the 100 counties that are working to expand broadband (high-speed Internet) access in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s “Prescription for Innovation” program was a 2004 initiative of Gov. Ernie Fletcher to help accelerate Kentucky’s use of technology.

The first meeting for Madison County’s e-Community Leadership was conducted Wednesday. The meeting was a primary attempt to form a group of county officials and residents who would work toward expanding broadband availability and using it to benefit the community in several areas.

The goals of the county’s group will include building a shared understanding of the links between the Prescription for Innovation program and the county’s economic development and determining how the new services can make a difference in education, business, government and community-based organizations.

The county’s official team has not been formed, but Richmond City Manager David Evans has recommended a list of people that includes all members of the Richmond City Commission, Berea City Council and Madison Fiscal Court. Others being recommended are: Mike Caudill, superintendent of Madison County Schools; James Dantic of Model Laboratory School; Sister Benita DeMatteis of St. Mark Catholic School; and Richmond resident Julsun Pacheco.

“We’re trying to get folks from a wide range of sectors,” said Sage Cutler, project manager for the Central Kentucky region. “They will get together and brainstorm about what kind of resources are in the county and try to find out how they can be utilized for future growth.”

Two years ago, Fletcher announced the program intended to provide high-speed Internet access to all Kentuckians by 2007.

According to information from, high-speed Internet availability has increased approximately 45 percent since the program began.

It is now available in an estimated 352,000 homes and computer ownership has grown by 17 percent. Moreover, the rate of Kentucky’s high-tech job growth is outpacing the national average.

“I think that in order for any city or county to progress, the technology must be at the forefront,” Evans said. “There have been lots of strides made in the county, but I think we can do even more. This will make the city and county more attractive to potential businesses and we will be able to do more with what we already have.”

Even though 85 percent of the county already has broadband access, the e-Community Leadership program still has a lot to offer, Cutler said.

“Those who want it can get it, but now we have to think of how we can utilize it to make it more beneficial,” he said.

After a group is formed to represent the county, an assessment will be done in order to customize the program for local needs and determine what data needs to be collected, Cutler said.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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