Strut Your Stuff: Broadband projects in Rock County

Part of becoming a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC), is the opportunity to show off what you’ve been doing related to broadband in your community. My favorite part of the talk with Rock County is when they said they felt prepared (as anyone could be) for the pandemic because they had adequate broadband.

And since the Governor spoke about loosening of stay at home rules, it was interesting to hear how they are planning to meet the needs this summer wrestling essential worker childcare needs with childcare and distraction needs from others. They have shifted to providing a lot of services online – from mental health resources (hope to post more on that later), school lessons and community education. They have even moved county commission meetings online, which led to some interested discussion of at-home business casual dress.

Rock County really is in a good position with broadband. They are working on devices for all (students) and again just wrestling with the new world.

Added May 27

Rock County

May 14, 2020

12:53 – Kyle Oldre’s statement: “You know what we’re going through with distance learning…such a heart-felt “thank you” to Alliance and what they have done. And the entire team at the school and trying to deliver this distance learning. We couldn’t have done it but for Alliance, but we also couldn’t have done it but for Blandin and PCs for People. When you think of what we were collectively tasked to do…during this pandemic, to make sure every student had the opportunity to learn…we got to the point in Luverne where they reached out to me that there was one student that didn’t have some type of connectivity, and that was because they were transitioning and moving, and the library bailed them out with trying to help them with a hotspot, which was also a Blandin-funded item…Both school districts that are located in Rock County, HBC and Luverne, were able to do this because of broadband and because of the team that was put together with the assistance of Blandin. So, hats off to Blandin. Hats off to Alliance. Our students are collectively better for being involved with you.”

19:59 –  Kyle Oldre On Magnolia Campground:

“We’ve had some essential workers that’ve moved in this spring…one is a traveling nurse living out of their camper while remote working. They log on every night through that Wi-Fi and…she’s able to conduct that (tele-health) in a campground…because of the backbone that’s provided…That was a Blandin-coined tool (the tele-health, distance learning, tele-commerce) certainly that’s one of the stools that’s being provided by the Wi-Fi in the campground…They’re conducting essential work out of the campground because they’re able to travel down and do those things.”

59:09 – Kyle Oldre: “I think as a society we are learning from this event. You’re seeing that by businesses moving to remote (work) where they can. We’re going to have smaller office complexes because they’ll have 25-50% of their workforce always working from home…Social Services already told 25% of their staff they’re staying home until the end of December because they found that they’re as efficient, or more efficient, working from home. They’re engaged and there’s no reason…they’re doing their follow-ups, just like this…what we’re all learning is that we can survive in this technology world, regardless of age, and it actually works quite well if used properly. The tools, whether it’s PowerPoints and shared screens…I never dreamt I’d be doing this stuff. But you’re able to do it. I could talk to someone in Biwabik today and we could have a great conversation for $16/month on my Zoom account…What I’m finding is that it works.”

1:46:17 – Kyle Oldre: “Last week I finished my 27th year with the county. When I started one of the department heads came in and said, “I want to buy a computer.” And I’m like, “Well, what do you want to buy?” And he wanted a gigabyte of memory. I told him he’d lost his mind. I said, “You could put every record produced in Rock County on that machine, there’s no reason to buy a gigabyte.” And I say that story because in 27 years I’m realizing how wrong I was, and how valuable this technology is, and how important it is, whether we’re in government or the private sector to continue to say, “Look, you can do more. It’s better. You’ve got to continue to capitalize on the assets that you have.” This is truly a bedrock asset for this county…and I offer this to Blandin: you have been so generous to the county. Now and previously with the number of cohorts that have gone through, and the training, and now with this grant…that if there’s anything we can do to assist you, whether it’s training in other communities, or whether it’s advocating at the capitol, whatever you need from us don’t hesitate to ask because you have been so good to us. And I want to make sure you realize how valuable we see this partnership. It really is more than just the money. The money helps, don’t get me wrong, but it is more than the money. And we just need to continue to educate and continue to advocate and do what we do in the positions we’re in.

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