Three broadband providers outlined their proposals at the Fillmore County board’s November 9 meeting.
The county has received $4.2 million in American Recovery Act funding. Broadband providers are looking for a portion of this funding to support broadband projects within the county. Much of Fillmore County is still underserved.
Corey Hauer, LTD Broadband, said they have been a provider in the county for nine years. Fixed wireless is limited by hills and trees. He said we have been successful getting federal funding for fiber optic cable. Recovery Act funding could allow us to add additional unserved and underserved areas in one or two years. He estimated it takes $5,000 per household to bring fiber to areas with a low density of households. County dollars could allow them to build quicker in rural areas.
Jill Huffman, CEO of Harmony Telephone/MiBroadband, said they are a cooperative partnership dedicated to the expansion of broadband. There is a significant need in Fillmore County for residents and businesses. Build-outs in rural areas are expensive with return on investment being very long term. Step one is to build it, and then to support it and make it run smoothly. Northern and western portions of the county have very limited household density. She detailed two project areas that could be expanded with the support of state and county dollars. Huffman made it clear she welcomes ideas and is willing to consider all funding options to expand project areas. They are looking at all future funding options at federal, state, and local levels. She suggested projects could be completed in two construction seasons. Huffman expects it will cost more than $5,000 per household in low density areas. She concluded stressing that the installation of fiber will greatly impact the future economic growth in the county.
Zachary Raskovich, Mediacom Communications, has been with Mediacom for 15 years. The Mediacom system makes service available to 6,200 homes and businesses. Mediacom recently built out broadband in the city of Fountain, sharing project costs about 50-50 with a Minnesota DEED Grant. Mediacom is now constructing 4.3 miles of fiber to bring service to 246 homes and businesses in Wykoff. The total investment is 100% paid for by Mediacom and is expected to launch in March 2022. Mediacom is prepared to invest in the city of Ostrander to serve 155 homes and businesses, roughly 3.5 miles of construction. Raskovich requested a county grant in the amount of $50,000 (using American Recovery Act funds) for this project or roughly 16 percent of the total project cost.
AcenTek is expected to present their proposal at the next board meeting on November 23.
Other business in brief
• Sheriff John DeGeorge asked for and received approval for a quote from Enterprise Fleet Management to purchase a 2022 Dodge Charger AWD unmarked squad car. The vehicle will be assigned to an investigator and will replace a 2016 unmarked Dodge Durango. Some equipment will be transferred. Approval was given to equip and setup the unmarked squad car at a cost of $5,528.73.
The next steps to be taken to possibly build a new jail facility were discussed. DeGeorge said he would reach out to the Howard County people to learn what process they used in planning and designing their jail. Committee members will check into what steps need to be taken to satisfy legal requirements in finding and selecting a qualified architect.
• Christy Smith, Auditor/Treasurer, explained 12 parcels in tax forfeiture are mostly located within a city or are very small parcels. They have been reviewed and determined to be non-conservation property. Approval was given classifying all the tax-forfeited land parcels as non-conservation property. A resolution of Tax Forfeiture Land Classification was approved.
The tax forfeited properties will be offered at public auction to be held on March 1, 2022 at 1 p.m.
Each commissioner will set a minimum sale price for each tax forfeiture property in their district by November 23. Once the minimum sale prices are set, cities and townships will have 60 days to consider if they want to purchase a property or acquire it for a public use. Minimum bids will be considered for approval at the November 23 board meeting.
• County Engineer Ron Gregg requested and received approval to advertise for a bridge replacement project in Arendahl Township using Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funding.
Approval was given to advertise for the surface reconditioning project on CSAH 30, from Highway 139 for a 2.5 mile section to Niagara Cave.
• The temporary employment of Bryant Bollman as a transfer station attendant for the sanitation department from November 3 through November 17 was approved.
The hire of a .08 FTE Public Health Nurse, Carrie Boyum, effective November 30 was approved.
• Jessica Erickson, director of nursing, asked for and received approval for electrical work to add a panel for additional outlets. Haakenson Electric, Inc. will do the work. The total cost is to be $3,569.53 and will be paid for with a COVID grant.
Approval was given of “Reflective Practice” monthly employee contact to prevent fatigue and burn out to be funded by a workforce grant. This is to go into effect once the grant is accepted.
• Anne Koliha, SWCD, said the County Feedlot Program Delegation Agreement Work Plan for 2022-2023 is similar to the plans of the last few years. Funding next year will be based on 597 feedlots. Feedlots have to be registered every four years. The Pollution Control Agency has approved the work plan. The plan was approved by the board as presented.
The Delegated County Feedlot Grant Agreement with the state was approved. The agreement is for four years, 2022-2025. The amount of the grant is based on 597 feedlots.
• The 2022 and 2023 State of Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement in the amount of $70,096 was approved. Funds are delegated to grant programs including shoreland, septic treatment systems, local water management, and wetland conservation.
• A request to advertise for proposals for copy machines was approved. The county has machines on a five-year lease.
• Approval was given for a list of delegates and policy committee members for the upcoming Association of Minnesota Counties annual meeting and for the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) voting delegates for 2021.