CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — On Friday, several people gathered to celebrate the construction kickoff of Appalachian Power and Gigabeam’s broadband partnership project that will bring high-speed internet connection to 13,000 homes, businesses, schools and churches in Logan and Mingo counties.

The event was held at the Thornhill Ford dealership just past the Boone County line north of Chapmanville. It was attended by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking alongside other officials.

“I’ve heard loud and clear through my Capito Connect initiative, especially in Logan and Mingo counties, that folks need reliable internet service, and they need it now,” Capito said. “As a rural state, innovative partnerships like this one between AEP and GigaBeam are crucial to quickly connecting West Virginians at a lower cost, and it’s why I’ve worked closely with them to support this broadband deployment project. Today’s launch means we are one step closer to accomplishing our shared goal of connecting all West Virginians, whether it’s at home, at work, at school or elsewhere. I look forward to not only seeing the tangible impacts of this project in southern West Virginia, but also to continue working in Congress to pass legislation that would replicate this middle-mile model for underserved areas across our state and country.”

Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and COO, said he appreciated Capito’s efforts.

“We thank Senator Capito for her many years of leadership to expand broadband access in rural America, and we greatly appreciate her ongoing efforts to solve the digital divide,” Beam said.

By building middle-mile backhaul on existing electric grid infrastructure, the partnership in Logan and Mingo counties is expected to bring Fiber-to-the-Home and wireless service to 13,019 unserved residences, 218 unserved businesses, 130 unserved churches, 16 unserved educational institutions, 32 unserved government buildings, six unserved health care facilities and 11 unserved utility sites.