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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

First look at Greenwood broadband cost: 6.3 million

Greenwood seeking help from grant writer

Jodi Summit
Posted 10/14/20

GREENWOOD TWP- A preliminary proposal from CTC, a broadband (high speed internet) supplier, puts the cost of bringing broadband-level service to as many as 1,370 residences in the Greenwood Township …

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First look at Greenwood broadband cost: 6.3 million

Greenwood seeking help from grant writer

Posted

GREENWOOD TWP- A preliminary proposal from CTC, a broadband (high speed internet) supplier, puts the cost of bringing broadband-level service to as many as 1,370 residences in the Greenwood Township area at around $6.3 million dollars. The project would include the installation of almost 106 miles of fiber optic cable, which would be buried underground.
Greenwood is currently served by Frontier Communications, offering a lower-speed DSL service, which is not sufficient for those wishing to telecommute. The company is also unreliable, often requiring long wait times for repairs.
Chairman Mike Ralston said costs for similar projects in northeastern Minnesota were in the same ballpark. One recent project, he said, was funded almost entirely with grant dollars, with a cost of just $100,000 to the township.
The cost estimate, Ralston said, is preliminary, and would change once actual groundwork and mapping is done.
Ralston said estimates of monthly costs for broadband customers would be between $60 and $100, depending on the speed of service.
The project would be done in conjunction with expansion of broadband service to the Vermilion Reservation.
The board, at Tuesday’s meeting, passed a motion to continue working with CTC. They also passed a motion to search for and hire a grant writer to work with the township to apply for available federal, state, and local grant programs.
The proposal would not include bringing broadband service to island properties.
“This is a starting point,” said Ralston. “We can use these numbers in our grant application to move forward….this is a good first step.”
The township had initially been soliciting proposals from a second company, Paul Bunyan from Bemidji, but they hadn’t yet responded to township requests for preliminary cost estimates, Ralston said.
Byron Beihoffer pushed back against reports that he was against broadband.
At last month’s meeting, Beihoffer said he wasn’t hearing any enthusiasm for broadband, and he speculated that the community wasn’t “gung-ho” on proceeding, and that “a lot of people…are happy with the internet they have.”
Beihoffer called the reporting that he was against broadband “fake news.”
“I was in support of the $50,000 proposed in the levy for broadband,” he said. “The people who voted against the $50,000 are against it.”
“I will continue to work for it,” he said.

Other business
In other business, the board:
• Approved the 2020 Tower Area Ambulance Commission contract and will make their second payment to the subsidy account. The township pays $15 per resident towards the fund. The 2021 agreement will be worked on at the next commission meeting in January. Supervisor Carmen DeLuca said the new agreement will include new language that specifies the service set up an enterprise fund as specified by township attorney Mike Couri.
• Heard an update by Tammy Mortaloni on spending of CARES Act funding. The township has spent $13,300 so far, and has $9,188 in funds available, but funds must be used by Nov. 15.
The township also can get $764 in special funding from St. Louis County to use for any COVID-related election expenses such as face masks, sanitation supplies, and cleaning costs.
• Discussed a letter from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry telling the township the department was closing the discrimination complaint filed by Jeff Maus in December 2017. Maus had claimed the fire department had discriminated against him because he had filed complaints against the department under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Ralston said, “This is good news once again.” But he added the township has expended “considerable dollars to defend ourselves and there are still two claims out there to respond to.”
• Reported that the board had met in a special meeting the previous week to approve the new errors and omissions insurance policy. The township has to find private insurance after the Minnesota Association of Township’s insurance arm stopped insuring the township about six years ago for errors and omissions coverage due to the number of claims being filed.
Ralston said the policy cost has increased by about $1,800 from last year.
“We hope to get back to MATIT insurance in the future,” he said, but the fact the township is still dealing with claims makes it unlikely.
• Approved a quote from Ferrellgas for propane at $1.02 per gallon for up to 5,000 gallons. DeLuca noted the township has been happy with the service from Ferrellgas this past year.
Reminded residents that the polls will be open at the town hall on Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Ralston said there were rumors that the town hall was not going to be open on Election Day, but he said that was not the case. The board also heard that election judges were ready, and head judges will again be Carol Maus and Kathy Lovgren.

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