More info on Sunrise Township – CenturyLink Border to Border project

I think this project (Sunrise Township in Chisago County and CenturyLink) will be a good one to watch in terms of possibly creating a template for other communities in CenturyLink areas. Here’s a little more detail on it from Chisago County Press

The pieces may be falling into place to service hundreds of properties in Sunrise Township with highspeed broadband.  The township has been awarded a coveted state Border-to-Border grant and now awaits a petition– signed by at least 50 percent of the affected potential CenturyLink customers–in support of the project.  This coming March might be one township annual meeting taxpayers won’t want to miss.

The project has an estimated price tag at $2.39 million. What Sunrise Township needs to do is create a subordinate service district (SSD) which is territory where CenturyLink can service customers, and these parcels would pay for their internet infrastructure….minus the state grant assistance.  The grant is for $1.07 million or approximately half the cost to install broadband Internet fiber infrastructure.

Sunrise would takeout debt to help the project happen and the debt is placed on tax rolls of parcels in the SSD.  Any broadband subscription costs go on top of that, explained Sunrise Chair Carl ‘Pete’ Johnson.
It has not been determined yet if the debt would be paid off over 10 years or 15 years.

Supervisor Johnson said SSD petition requirements must be fulfilled first,  before the township supervisors are even going to consider acting.  The township has a consultant verifying the signatures presented thus far, to make sure they are property owners within what comprises the Subordinate Service District.

More info on Border to Border grants in Crow Wing and Cass Counties

More details on the Crow Wing and Cass Counties broadband project from Telecompetitor

TDS Telecom (TDS) announced last week it would receive $3 million in Minnesota Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) funds and invest another $3 million to expand and improve rural broadband services in parts of Crow Wing and Cass Counties.

Elaborating, TDS said it would expand broadband service and high-speed wireless Internet access to serve more than 3,400 unserved households and a variety of local organizations. Included among the latter are more than 60 businesses, 142 small enterprises, and a number of community “anchor” institutions. The project will impact residents and businesses in parts of Backus, Hackensack, Ideal Corners, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, and Woman Lake, according to a TDS press release.

More info on Border to Border grants in Redwood, Renville, Brown and Watonwan Counties

St James Plaindealer reports on Border to Border grant projects in their area…

The Arvig awarded project will serve 15 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses near Morgan.
Arvig-Redwood Telephone will improve service levels to this rural area, which is home to Minnesota’s annual Farmfest and relies on quality broadband service for precision agriculture applications and to monitor crops and livestock. The total eligible project cost is $62,218, with a $34,220 local match.
In Renville County, Hiawatha Broadband Communications & RS Fiber was awarded $807,966.
This project will serve 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses and three community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osceola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sac-red Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henry-ville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp and Cairo townships in Renville County.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications and RS Fiber will provide improved services that officials hope will stimulate business and population growth.
The total eligible project cost is $2.07 million, with a $1.26 million local match.

– NU-Telecom was also selected as one of the companies that will receive state grants for broadband development. NU-Telecom received three of the 42 grants announced by Lt. Governor Tina Smith.
New Ulm Telecom will receive $850,486 of the $1,889,968 total project costs to build fiber connections to homes and businesses in the rural areas of Hanska and Mazeppa and in and around Bellechester. President and CEO Bill Otis said the company expects the projects to begin in the spring.
“We’re very pleased that we were selected in the border-to-border grant process,” he said. “We appreciate the support from the local businesses and residents. The grants will be utilized to extend our network and bring broadband services to customers in these rural areas, including providing Gigabit speeds via fiber-to-the home, which will exceed 2026 state speed goals.”

Rep Hamilton applauds MN broadband grants and challenge process

AgWeek features a Letter to the Editor from Representative Rod Hamilton. He applauds the grant challenge process…

Thanks to GOP-led efforts, $32 million of the $35 million in grants were targeted toward unserved areas of the state. Additionally, because of policy reforms to the program, the Minnesota State Broadband fund leveraged Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) federal broadband funding to amplify connectivity into rural areas of the state. In total, Minnesota is expected to see half a billion dollars in combined state and federal broadband funding between 2015 and 2021.The legislature approved a total of $45 million in broadband grants during the 2015 and 2016 legislative session. When combined with federal CAF II funds, Minnesota will see more than $100 million in broadband expansion this year alone.

It’s great to see that investment happening in rural areas – although I think it’s helpful to remind folks that the CAF money only requires providers to upgrade to 10 Mbps down and 1 up (10/1) access, which is much slower that short term (25/3 by 2022) and long term (100/20 by 2026) Minnesota broadband speed goals.

He also mentions projects funded in his area…

A total of $2.94 million will be used by Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company for Nobles County broadband. This project will serve 469 unserved households, 1,060 unserved businesses and six unserved community anchor institutions in Nobles County. Lismore Cooperative and other partners will provide services that improve opportunities for health care, education and telecommuting.

Westbrook will also receive $412,391 through Woodstock Telephone. This project will serve 368 unserved households, 29 unserved businesses and seven unserved community anchor institutions in Westbrook in Cottonwood County. Woodstock will improve services that encourage business growth and more access to health care, education and telecommuting opportunities.

More Info on NU-Telecom Border to Border grant project in Brown, Wabasha and Goodhue Counties

The New Ulm Journal published more info on the NU-Telecom state funding broadband expansion…

NU-Telecom will receive $850,486 in grants for a $1,889,968 project to build fiber connections to homes and businesses in the rural areas of Hanska, Mazeppa and in and around Bellechester. In a press release, NU-Telecom President and CEO Bill Otis said the company expects the projects to begin in the spring.

“We’re very pleased that we were selected in the border-to-border grant process,” he said. “We appreciate the support form the local businesses and residents. The grant will be utilized to extend our network and bring broadband services to customers in these rural areas, including providing GB speeds via fiber to the home, which will exceed 2026 state speed goals.”

State Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said more than $1 million in broadband grants will be used to expand access to Hanska and Redwood and Renville counties.

“Broadband access is critical for folks who want to do business in Greater Minnesota, and these grants will allow this to happen,” Torkelson said. “I commend those who worked together and made these grants a reality.”

Google Grants Promote Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers: deadline March 19

Keeping teachers on the cutting edge is a good way to keep students on the cutting edge of computer science education…

Grants Promote Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers from Google Computer Science for High School
Google Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) is an annual program dedicated to improving the computer science (CS) educational ecosystem by funding computer science education experts to provide exemplary CS professional development for teachers. The funding focuses on three major growth areas for teacher professional development in CS: facilitating the development and delivery of content that increases teachers’ knowledge of computer science and computational thinking, allowing providers to customize learning content to meet local needs and the sharing of best practices for engaging all students, and addressing the building of communities of practice that continue to support teacher learning throughout the school year. Research institutions, universities, and educational nonprofit organizations such as professional development organizations, school districts, and local offices of education are eligible to propose professional development opportunities for their local school teachers. The application deadline is March 19, 2017. Visit the CS4HS website to submit an online application.