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Collins, King Announce More Than $1 Million in USDA Grant Funding to Expand Access to Rural Broadband & Invest in Telemedicine Innovation in Maine

February 7, 2014

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 -- The office of Sen. Angus S. King Jr., I-Maine, issued the following news release:

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today announced that the Department of Agriculture has awarded a total of $1,093,138 in grant funding to two Maine school districts and a rural health care provider through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program.

The award amounts and recipients are as follows:

* Maine School Administrative District #37 - including the towns of Addison, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Millbridge, Harrington, and Cherryfield - will receive $490,625 to help acquire equipment and software for a distance learning connection with Machias Bay Area School System. The new equipment will give students a wider range of classes and teachers. Adult education, professional development and public service classes will also be carried on the system.

* Maine School Administrative District #54 - including the towns of Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan, and Smithfield - will receive $499,278 to purchase equipment for a laptop-based distance learning system.

The initiative is intended to increase elementary, middle and high school students' knowledge and practice of important health and wellness concepts.

The project will involve 22 schools serving nearly 6,500 students, 575 teachers, 13,000 parents and more than 33,000 community members.

* Maine Community Health & Counseling Services will receive $103,235 to purchase in-home patient monitors, medication dispensers, and screening monitors for Community Health and Counseling Services, which serves patients in Piscataquis and Washington counties with congestive heart failure, medication compliance issues, patients who need speech pathology to address swallowing disorders. The project is expected to reduce preventable hospital visits and emergency room visits, saving time and money.

"Access to advanced telecommunications and medical technologies as well as high-speed broadband can make a significant difference in overcoming challenges presented by distance, particularly in a large, rural state like Maine," Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. "These funds will help to expand educational opportunities for students and local community members and will also invest in new medical equipment that will provide people with the care they need while allowing them to remain in the comfort of their home."

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need, and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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