The Timberjay reports…
Residents here, who have been without reliable Internet access for years, could soon have some of the best broadband speeds in the area, if final funding from the state’s Border-to-Border grant program is approved later this year.
The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation recently approved a $224,800 grant to the township, which means Morcom Township has now secured three-quarters of the $899,200 they’ll need to bring broadband to the 126 unserved and underserved households in the township and in an adjacent unorganized township to the north. Morcom Township is located west of Cook.
“We are just waiting to hear in December if we qualified for the state Border to Border grant,” said Morcom Town Clerk Sasha Lehto. Morcom is asking for $331,704 in border-to-border funding under a plan to utilize Paul Bunyan Communications as the township’s broadband provider. Paul Bunyan would commit $332,696 to the effort. Morcom Township has committed $10,000 in township funds for the project.
“This was out of our really small budget,” said Lehto, “but either you want it or you don’t. This is for our people.”
The need for reliable internet service in the Morcom Township area is clear.
The article demonstrates the importance of the MN grants. The hope they bring but in reality the state grants are the difference between a community getting improved broadband or not. I saw the difference it made looking at the most recent MN broadband county profiles – counties with grants saw improvement.
The article outlines a few project proposals from the area…
IRRR grants for broadband projects were also approved for:
$579,272 to Bois Forte Band of Chippewa for the construction of a fiber network to serve 442 unserved and underserved households on the reservation. Total project cost is $2,317,090.
$105,450 for Ash River for the construction of a broadband network for 121 unserved and underserved households in the Ash River area. Total project cost is $421,800.
$236,050 for the Elephant and Black Duck lake areas for the construction of a fiber network to serve 124 unserved and underserved households near Elephant Lake. Total project cost is $944,200.
Both Paul Bunyan Communications (Ash River and Elephant Lake) and Consolidated Telephone Company (Bois Forte) are provider partners for these projects. All these projects are also scheduled to receive state funding from the Border to Border program (pending final approval).