The Marshall Independent reports…
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also voiced support for a stepped up effort to expand broadband Internet service to rural counties.
Yellow Medicine County ranks near the bottom of the list among Minnesota counties for access to broadband. It provides a much more convenient access to the Internet than dial-up alternatives.
The county includes two large areas without any towns that have a population of more than 500 people. One is the southeast side of the county with Hanley Falls, Wood Lake and Echo. The other lies between Clarkfield and Canby with the towns of St. Leo and Porter.
Those and other rural locations are likely to be among the last areas to acquire broadband service.
Commissioner Ron Antony said he’s encouraged by a news release issued last week by Minnesota Sen.-elect Tina Smith which advocated including funds for broadband expansions in the upcoming federal Farm Bill.
Commissioner John Berends said it could be helpful this winter to organize local and regional meetings that allow opportunities to express points of view to federal lawmakers, state legislators, and their staff.
“There might be some interest in meeting with the public,” Berends said. “People would have a chance to explain our service needs.”
Heglund told the board that another key part of broadband expansion will be to encourage Internet providers to find ways of reaching out to potential rural customers.
“It would help if more providers approached us to express interest,” she said. “There are telecommincations investments being made in Minnesota. We just don’t have any control over where that money is spent.”