Grassroots efforts to bring fiber internet service to the communities within the Jo-Carroll Energy and Sand Prairie service territory are paying off. Because of strong interest shown by Elizabeth residents, Sand Prairie opened four areas in Elizabeth to sign up for fiber service, the first since the local cooperative completed a pilot project in Galena last year. “The village of Elizabeth has submitted enough interest via our website to place the community at the front of the queue and toward the final step in making the fiber-to-the-premise experience a reality,” said Jesse Shekleton, Jo-Carroll director of engineering, whose team is spearheading the project. Member interest is one factor the cooperative uses to help determine future build-outs for the service. It is the first step in a six-step process on the road to fiber internet. “We were very happy that Elizabeth residents responded so positively to the opportunity for fiber because the benefits are enormous,” said Elizabeth village president Mike Dittmar. “Not only does it increase the quality of life for our residents, it is also a huge benefit to our businesses and continued economic development.” Sand Prairie currently has identified 13 fiber communities. Once enough interest is shown for a community, neighborhoods are mapped, and the sign-up phase begins. Elizabeth is now in that second step and once the necessary number of subscribers is reached it will move to the construction and installation phases. “Assuming all members who were initially interested sign up, we are prepared to immediately mobilize crews and begin construction,” said Shekleton. “The result will be the ultimate internet service available – and as an added bonus – is provided by their very own local, not-for-profit cooperative.” Elizabeth residents interested in the service are encouraged to visit the website to sign up for service. Members who had visited connectSP.com to indicate interest in have received sign up information via email. Members in other areas also can express their interest and track progress on the Fiber Communities page. Active sign up areas are identified as orange on the Fiber Communities map. Announcements of new areas opening to sign up will be made on both connectSP.com and Jo-Carroll’s website as well as the cooperative’s social media. “We are eager to see this project continue toward completion and begin the next fiber build out to another member community,” Shekleton said.