April eNews is on the Streets

We posted the April eNews yesterday. I wanted to share the parts of the eNews that aren’t on the blog already with the blog readers…

Community News

All State Wireless a subsidiary of All State Satellite Depot Inc. opened a new Sprint store March 1 in Alexandria.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie visited Crookston, mentioning the possibility of allowing absentee votes via the Internet. It was a suggestion that Governor Pawlenty voted down last year, but will probably resurface. (http://tinyurl.com/3y4g34)

Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, reflecting on the last year, mentions efforts to bring broadband to the community. “Broadband is as vital to our wellbeing as good roads, electrical power and safe water,” he said. (http://tinyurl.com/324pch)

Iron Range
The Iron Range Network Joint Powers Board is committed to a high speed network but they are at a crossroads and are considering their options for building and deploying the network. (http://tinyurl.com/2pdefq)

A conference for parents entitled, Youngsters and the Internet, draws 150 attendees in Isanti. Parents learn how to teach their children about the Internet and how to keep safe online. (http://tinyurl.com/2lr3bv)

Insight School of Minnesota, an online high school will open next fall. The school expects 200 students. Insight School opened in Washington in 2006 and has been popular and well regarded. (http://tinyurl.com/2jckuc)

Minneapolis Wireless network is set to be completed by the end of March, 2008. (http://tinyurl.com/27x5vz)

A columnist for the Monticello Times provides a rave review of YouTube and its religious brother God Tube. (http://tinyurl.com/3csclj)

Red Wing
Senator Amy Klobuchar visited in March to discuss broadband in Red Wing, among other things. (http://tinyurl.com/394kqy)

CrossUSA recruits technology workers to rural areas to remotely manage networks and mainframes in such a way that keeps the jobs in the country rather than offshore. (http://tinyurl.com/39v2d5)

St Cloud
St. Cloud Recreation Department will no longer be printing catalogs; program information will now be posted online only. Community members have concerns but the impact will be closely monitored. (http://tinyurl.com/2mzy7d)

Thief River Falls
Police offer the old mantra – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – as sage advice on the Internet. (http://tinyurl.com/2uj4tb)

Todd County
Todd County started an FTTP program with a meeting with committee members, key stakeholders and Bill Coleman representing Blandin Foundation. They discussed the need for the community to invest in telecommunications to get the network they want and need for their future.

Twin Cities
The Twin Cities are beefing up their communications networks to support the GOP National Convention this September. Verizon Wireless expects a 150 percent rise in data transmissions on its broadband network. Qwest Communications International will add more than 100 miles of fiber-optic and copper lines in and around the Xcel Energy Center. (http://tinyurl.com/2uc2hx)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Waseca County Sheriff’s Office are working out a new system that will allow residents to activate burning permits online. Online permits will be $5 but can be reactivated throughout the year. (http://tinyurl.com/2my9aj)

Home and Community Options Inc is in the midst of wiring one of their residences. Once it is installed, the home will not need night staff on premises; it will be monitored remotely. (http://tinyurl.com/2pm8y5)

Bill Coleman

Coleman’s Corner

Blandin Foundation’s broadband programs enable me to work with many communities throughout the state. My work this week was especially interesting. On one day, I met with leaders in a community that is just embarking on the journey to better understanding of their telecommunications services. They are asking the right questions – “What do we have? …What do we need? …. How do we get there?

Through the Community Broadband Resources program (http://www.blandinfoundation.com/html/public_bb_cbr.cfm), I will be helping them understand the current offerings from incumbent providers and the telecom needs of their business community and residents. While I work on getting information from the providers, the community leaders will be out visiting with the businesses. We will be able to pull this information together, have some informed meetings with the providers then talk about next steps.

The following day, I was able to participate in a consultant selection process for a community FTTP feasibility study. This community has been working for some time to get to this point. They have talked extensively with their incumbent providers and potential competitive providers. They have worked through the Blandin Foundation Get Broadband program (http://www.blandinfoundation.org/bsite/bbsite.html) to inform community members and businesses about the importance of broadband for economic development and quality of life. They have their local governments, school district and municipal utilities working together to identify future needs for bandwidth and technology applications. This community is seeking the definitive information necessary to make informed decisions about their next steps.

Each community is unique and has their own set of decision making factors and priorities. What is not unique is the need to bring community leaders together around the issue of broadband and technology. It is clear that communities that work aggressively on both sides of the equation – ensuring high quality services and building demand and technology sophistication – will emerge on the positive side of the digital divide and new economy. Community Broadband Resources (CBR) is designed to provide communities with the assistance they need when they need it. Go online to the Blandin website (www.blandinfoundation.org), find out the details and apply for the type of assistance that would move your community forward. While making progress is sometimes hard, the CBR online application process is quick and simple! I look forward to working with you!

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