About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Aitkin County’s Riverwood Healthcare Center get telehealth help with Blandin Foundation support

Aitkin County Age reports on Blandin Foundation’s support of My Chart enhancements for Riverwood Healthcare Center…

Broadband grant money is a pass through that uses the county to help disburse money to worthy broadband projects.

One of the projects submitted ($50,000 was available this round) were WiFi hotspot at the Jacobson Community Center. There are no broadband, high speed internet spots in that part of the county.  It will be a satellite WiFi system.

My Chart enhancements for Riverwood Healthcare Center applied for funding to help with telehealth, telemedicine. My Chart will allow people to access their medical records from home.  Training for staff would increase the use of telehealth initiatives. An amount of $20,000 will be used for training in how to use the telehealth and My Chart infrastructure; $50,000 is available, but the projects total only $44,000.

Wagner thanked the Blandin Foundation for the broadband funding it has contributed over the past three years.

Rep. Rob Ecklund promotes broadband investment with state surplus

The Duluth News Tribune posted comments and suggestions from about a dozen elected officials and community leaders on what to do with the projected $1.3 billion in state surplus forecast for the biennium. Representative Ecklund mentioned broadband…

“There are several strong indicators within the forecast, including a positive balance for the current biennium, continued low unemployment, and a healthy budget reserve. The forecast … is just a snapshot, though, and our economy could eventually slow down, so we need to remain careful going forward. We need to keep our focus on what will help families prosper and this includes investments in great schools, affordable health care for everybody, and good-paying job opportunities in every corner of the state with the help of tools like expanded high-speed broadband.

“Minnesota also has a strong credit rating with low interest rates available to us. We should use this opportunity to come together and pass a strong bonding bill next session, with investments in priorities like our colleges and universities, clean water infrastructure, and new jobs and economic vitality within our communities.”

— Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, in a statement

White Earth Tribal Council and local Blandin Broadband Community partner on local WiFi access

D-L Online reports on the Partnership between the local Blandin Broadband Community Initiative and White Earth Tribal Council  …

The council passed a resolution to partner with the Blandin Foundation to provide funding for community projects to help promote the access and use of broadband for members across the reservation. Examples given in the presentation were Wi-Fi access to community members, libraries, community workforce, and schools.

No more County-wide 911 outages in Lake County

Lake Superior News reports Cook County’s Interim Administrator, Rena Roger’s 2019 highlights…

2019 saw two long term initiatives/issues finally resolved:

  • The County and the Forest service completed the BWCAW Land Exchange, a reflection of extensive work by our Attorney and Assessor’s Offices, GIS analyst, and others.
  • 911 Service redundancy was finally achieved through a partnership with CenturyLink, The Northeast Service Cooperative, True North Broadband, and the State of Minnesota, assisted by Cook County MIS, the Sheriff’s Office, and Emergency Management. The result: no more County-wide 911 outages!

Waseca’s Theresa Sunde appointed to Minnesota Governor’s Broadband Task Force

Fun to see a community excited about a broadband appointment. Waseca County News reports

Mediacom Senior Manager and Waseca resident Theresa Sunde has been appointed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to serve a four-year term on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

The purpose of the Task Force is to advise the executive and legislative branches on policies to help ensure every Minnesotan has access to high-speed broadband.

Sunde is the one member of the 14-person Task Force whose professional career has been in the cable industry. She is a senior manager for Mediacom, a company that offers Gigabit internet speeds to residents and businesses in more than 180 small and mid-sized communities throughout Minnesota.

Sunde has worked in the cable telecommunications industry for 23 years. She is responsible for government relations in Minnesota and three other states where Mediacom offers advanced broadband services.

Better broadband and digital training boost two rural counties in Kentucky

 

Last week the New Yorker ran in intersting story on the impact of getting better broadband to everyone in two rural counties in Kentucky. While it’s true that every rural county is unique, there are lessons to be learned from the ones who build a winning plan. First,  cooperative built broadband in a rural area…

The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile. “Someone has to build to the last mile,” he said. “The big telecom companies aren’t going to do it, because it’s not economical and they have shareholders to answer to. We’re a co-op. We’re owned by our members. We answer to each other.” The grants they got, he said, were a matter of good timing and good luck. P.R.T.C. failed the first time it applied for stimulus money but got it on the second round, and with better terms than it had asked for originally. “One of the things we pitched was how impoverished our region was, how high our unemployment was, and how much this would help us,” Gabbard said. Even so, P.R.T.C. was initially five million dollars short of what it cost to wire the last, most remote residences with fibre-optic broadband; profits from Appalachian Wireless supplied the remaining capital that it needed to finish the job. “Our board and staff, we really wanted to do it all,” Gabbard said. “We wanted everyone to have the same thing.”

They worked on digital skills…

Once Jackson and Owsley Counties were wired, Gabbard was approached by the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (ekcep), to see if they could use P.R.T.C.’s broadband to bring Internet-based jobs to the region. In 2015, Teleworks U.S.A., a job-training nonprofit, opened a branch in Jackson County. It is a collaboration between ekcep, the phone coöperative, and a number of other civic groups. P.R.T.C. supplies the hub with Internet connectivity and gives three months of free service to anyone who completes a workshop there. In nearly five years, it has created more than six hundred work-at-home jobs in the county. Participants learn enough basic computer skills to get placed at companies such as Hilton Hotels, Cabela’s, U-Haul, Harry & David, and Apple.

Shani Hays, who knew nothing about computers six months ago, is now fielding calls about iPads, AirPods, iPhones, and Apple Watches. “The training was really extensive and really, really hard,” she said. “There was all this technical stuff I knew nothing about, but I just kinda nickel-and-dimed my way through.” Hays has received two raises so far, and now earns more than fourteen dollars an hour. She will soon be eligible for health insurance, paid vacation time, and other benefits. Working at home saves her money, too. When we talked, she had a hard time remembering the last time she had to put gas in her car. “And there’s none of that stopping to get gas and driving away with a coffee and a candy bar and there goes another ten dollars,” she said.

Broadband seems wonky – but you see it or the impact of having or not having it everywhere…

“Rural broadband seemed wonkish to people for a long time, but they’re starting to see it in kitchen-table terms,” the F.C.C. commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told me. “It doesn’t matter if you’re from red-state America or blue-state America—you’re going to want your kids to be able to do their homework and to succeed in the digital economy.” What this has meant, in real terms, is that the F.C.C. and a number of other federal agencies, most notably the U.S.D.A., now consider broadband to be infrastructure, just as roads and bridges were in the twentieth century. “We used to have to beat our way through policy doors to talk to people about our issues,” Bloomfield, of the Rural Broadband Association, told me. “Suddenly people are focussing on this in a bipartisan fashion.”

Candidates, too, have latched onto rural broadband, seeing it, perhaps, as a way to woo voters in the hinterlands. But it goes beyond the transactional business of electoral politics. The widening rural-urban digital divide is leaving behind whole swaths of the country, exacerbating educational and economic inequalities and thwarting innovations in agriculture. Elizabeth WarrenJoe BidenPete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer have each offered plans to bridge the gap. Amy Klobuchar has been writing legislation to expand rural Internet services for years.

Broadband isn’t a panacea but it does help…

“I don’t think having broadband is necessarily going to make a five-hundred-job factory move in to Owsley, but it certainly can make people’s lives better and keep them from having to drive a hundred miles a day, back and forth, to work,” Keith Gabbard said. “You can’t make everybody magically go from making twenty-five thousand dollars a year to seventy-five thousand. Broadband is not going to create higher-paying jobs for everyone in the county. But it can help education. It can help entertainment. It can help the economy. It can help health care. And I even think that people’s mind-set—how they feel about themselves—can be improved just by not always saying ‘We don’t have nothing here.’ In this case, we have something to be proud of. We have something everyone else wants.”

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting December 10

The first meeting of the new Broadband Task Force is scheduled for December 10…

December 10

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
James J. Hill Conference Room
332 Minnesota Street, Suite E-200
St. Paul, MN 55101-1351

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Welcome by DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
  • 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Introductions and Reasons for Being on the Taskforce
    • Teddy Bekele, Chair and Task Force Members
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Overview of MN Government; Basics of the Legislature
    • Darielle Dannen; Govt. Relations Director, DEED
  • Overview of the Office of Broadband Development
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • Overview of Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program
    • Angie Dickison, Broadband Development Mgr., OBD
  • Open Meeting Law and Data Practices Act
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lunch
  • 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Overview of Reports from Previous Task Forces
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Role and Goals for this Task Force
    • Task Force Members
  • 1:40 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. Future Meetings Discussion
    • Task Force Members
  • 1:50 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Other Business