Port of Whitman County receives state award
December 9, 2021
COLFAX - The Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) honored the Port of Whitman County with its 2021 President's Port of the Year award.
The award recognizes a public port district for generating favorable public attention for its activities and positively representing the industry.
Membership in the association numbers 75 ports in Washington State.
The Port of Whitman County was chosen for its statewide leadership in constructing open-access, fiber-optic internet networks to several communities.
"The Port of Whitman (County) is truly a leader in building the state's broadband infrastructure for the future," said Jean Ryckman, Port of Pasco District 2 commissioner.
Ryckman presented the accolade during WPPA's annual meeting in Bellevue on Dec. 3.
The Port is working to enable gig-speed broadband in five Whitman County communities, Rosalia, Garfield, Oakesdale, Palouse, and Tekoa, and extend fiber an additional 41 miles to rural areas.
The next project, scheduled for completion, connects more than 150 businesses and 1,386 homes to broadband infrastructure.
The port received a $1.7 million grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to design and construct a fiber-to-the-premises network around Pine City and Malden. Fires in the fall of 2020 nearly destroyed the towns, ravaging more than 15,000 acres and 80% of homes.
As the community continues to rebuild, infrastructure - including broadband - will chart the path for their recovery.
The impacts of the port's broadband work extend beyond Whitman County. The port leads Petrichor Broadband, LLC, a municipal corporation formed by six Washington ports in 2020. The other founding members include Port of Kalama, Port of Ridgefield, Port of Skagit County, Port of Bellingham, and Port of Pasco.
Petrichor Broadband provides consulting and network management services to public agencies seeking to expand broadband infrastructure to previously underserved areas of Washington State.
"This particular enterprise started out 22 years ago when we couldn't even get dial-up internet, and the pandemic brings the whole story back around. It's really been a ride. Getting recognized like this and having everyone partner with us – it's truly been an honor," Executive Director Joe Poire said.