Renville Sibley County (RS Fiber) – next meeting October 23

RS Fiber has been working on community spear-headed fiber project; they have hit some speed bumps along the way – mostly a series of postponed votes, which have put the project in a holding pattern. It looks like the next important meeting has just been scheduled for October 23. I thought it might be helpful to recap the project a bit.

From the RS Fiber website

RS Fiber is a community-owned High Speed Fiber Optic Connection to every home, farm, business and government office to provide everyone with low-cost, reliable high speed Internet, crystal clear cable television, and phone services. Fiber to the Home (FTTH) has become the leading technology for next-generation communications network worldwide.

They are somewhat unique in the scope of their plans – specifically the plan to include farms. Farms are almost inherently harder to serve because they tend to be spread out in low population density areas, which means more fiber pulled to reach each location. (Dave Peters of MPR wrote a nice piece on their decision to serve farmers – or not – two years ago.)

The project has been moving forward – RS Fiber has been having local meetings with cities and counties involved – asking folks to vote whether to move forward. On September 25, Fiber shared on update

Nine of the 11 communities have approved bonding resolutions. (Both Stewart and Winthrop passed their bond resolutions tonight. Another town is expected to pass the resolution tomorrow night.)

Sibley and Renville counties vote tomorrow morning. The joint powers board meets Thursday to assess participation and move the project forward.

Unfortunately for RS Fiber, that vote was postponed until Oct 9. The Mankato Free Press reported…

Commissioners said they want more information on the legal and financial particulars of the RS Fiber venture, a grass-roots effort that began nearly two years ago.

Then the Oct 9 vote was postponed as well. RS Fiber explained on their Facebook page…

After more than 90 minutes of comments and discussion, the commissioners decided to wait until a bond counsel opinion has been received before taking action on the matter. Commissioner Jim Swanson stated, “We all agree on the benefits,” but said that if it were put to a contingency vote at that moment, he would vote no. The meeting ended without a motion, and the consensus that the matter would be brought up again when there is something to act on.

Earlier this week, I tried to post two sides of the issue based on local letters to the editor. That just about brings us up to date. This morning, through the RS Fiber Facebook Page I’ve learned that another meeting has been scheduled for the Sibley County Commissioners…

• Did you pledge “YES” for fiber to be brought to your home or business?
• Did you know that the towns and Renville County are expected to move forward?
• Did you know our Sibley County commissioners have not taken a stand yet?
• Do you know that the project door is expected to close October 30th, AND, if the Sibley commissioners do not vote “yes”, rural Sibley County will NOT get fiber?

The Commissioners have the financing documents in hand and need to vote on whether to move forward or not. While we all know that with every project there are risks involved, there are also risks of NOT moving forward.

The return of pledge cards and support from prior public meetings clearly shows the need for these services.

The time has come when the rubber hits the road. If the commissioners do not vote “yes” at this point, the project will move forward and rural Sibley county will be left out. Time has run out and the cities and Renville County are expected to move forward with or without rural Sibley County.

We need everyone in the project area to attend Tuesday’s commissioner meeting in Gaylord to demonstrate your continued support for the fiber project to remain a county wide project.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Sibley County Courthouse
Commissioners Room (second floor)
10:00 AM

The Sibley County Commissioner Agenda does not seem to indicate a vote has been scheduled – but Economic Development Director Tim Dolan is slated to give a bonding update at 10:15.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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