(From the Petoskey News-Review) Charlevoix County residents are expected to be among the first in the state to benefit from a $33 million federal stimulus grant that will help bring vastly expanded broadband Internet access to the area. Representatives from the nonprofit Merit Network, which is overseeing the network expansion project, hosted an informational session for area business and government officials at the Boyne District Library Thursday. The project, dubbed the “REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative” will extend Merit’s existing 1,600-mile network of fiber-optic by 955 miles which will directly connect 44 “anchor” institutions such as libraries, universities, colleges and health care centers state-wide. Merit officials estimate that across the state, the project will make broadband Internet service more easily available to more than 886,000 households, 45,800 businesses and many other public institutions such as schools. Read the full story.