Culpeper Times: ‘It was surreal.’ Say speaks to Culpeper County broadband issues, introduces Biden


Former president/CEO of the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce Jeff Say visited the White House Monday to speak about Culpeper County’s challenges with receiving adequate broadband services.

“The whole event, the whole experience was really surreal,” Jeff Say said. “Getting to meet the president and the vice president, it was a huge honor.”

When Say was at his post at the Chamber last year, the Biden Administration had visited Culpeper and heard stories from so many about the lack of this basic utility, Say said. It was this past Tuesday, though, that U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s office contacted the Chamber’s new president/CEO, Amy Frazier, looking to connect Say with the Administration about the possibility of giving some remarks at the White House about Culpeper’s long-standing broadband issues.

“The next thing I knew we were locked in,” he said. “It kind of steam rolled from there.”

Say formerly worked at the Chamber for two years before transiting into the Manager of Community Engagement at UVA Health this past February.

Despite being on vacation with his family in Virginia Beach, Say made the drive up to Washington D.C. to make his 11:30 a.m. remarks.

Say recalled during his remarks house hunting when his family stumbled upon a perfect home.

“But the day we moved in, our ordeal began,” he said.

He described reaching out to services providers who explained it would cost “tens of thousands of dollars” to run a broadband line to their new home as the service stopped a half mile down the road.

For now, the Say family settles for a hot spot that’s “spotty” at best, he continued.

When they need more reliable connection, they must drive to the Culpeper County Library or each other’s work offices.

“Every aspect of our life has seemingly been touched by internet access: education, health, commerce and entertainment.”

Culpeper has long had issues with receiving and maintaining broadband services with 4,300 households still going without, Say said in his remarks.

Say noted Culpeper County has been “working really hard on the broadband initiative,” and hopes to see it materialize soon.

“It was an incredible experience,” he said. “This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“It was really exciting for me to be able to represent Culpeper and advocate fiercely for broadband for all because it really is a utility not a luxury.”

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