Broadband grant on its way
WORTHINGTON -- In a meeting that lasted little more than an hour Tuesday, Nobles County commissioners learned a $25,000 grant the county sought from Blandin Broadband Communities will likely be officially awarded today.
WORTHINGTON - In a meeting that lasted little more than an hour Tuesday, Nobles County commissioners learned a $25,000 grant the county sought from Blandin Broadband Communities will likely be officially awarded today.
The funds require a 100 percent match - some of which can be in-kind - and will be spent on a consultant to lead a feasibility study. Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson said the study will reveal where the greatest needs for Internet services are within the county.
“We’ll probably have to do some surveys and get detail on where we have service and where we don’t,” he said. “Once we get a good idea of that and who will sign up (for service), we can encourage a provider to come on board.”
In addition to the $25,000 grant for the study, a second grant of $9,500 will also be awarded to Nobles County, with MVTV-Wireless providing the required match.
Johnson said MVTV will help determine where some Internet hot spots may be located throughout the county. There is potential to create hot spots at township halls or certain buildings in small cities.
“The intent is that anyone who doesn’t have Internet or broadband service could just drive up and stay in their car,” Johnson said. “They could do homework or research if they can’t get (Internet) at home. It’s meant to be an interim step to get broadband to everybody.”
Nobles County currently ranks 54th of Minnesota’s 87 counties in broadband availability. Johnson said while progress has been made, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re a long way from the top, but that’s what we’re trying to fix,” said Commissioner Gene Metz.
The improvement could come after the feasibility study is completed. Johnson said the next step is to access grants to help the county build up its broadband system without the use of tax dollars.
In other action, the board:
- Approved a request from Jesse Feeken to participate in the Nobles Home Initiative program and receive a five-year property tax abatement on a new home to be constructed at 30562 Hesselroth Ave., Ransom Township.
- Approved a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with University of Minnesota Extension for the 4-H Program Coordinator position.
- Approved a community wellness grant agreement with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services, which will serve as the fiscal host. The grant, in place through Oct. 31, 2018, will fund a community wellness grant coordinator, public health nurse, health educator and outreach worker for public health, as well as a shared dietitian position with Avera Worthington Clinic.
“We do hope for sustainability,” said Nobles County Community Health Services Administrator Terri Janssen, adding that the state wants the community wellness program to work with health plans and provide programs for individuals. “We certainly hope that the positions will continue,” added Community Services Director Stacie Golombiecki. “There’s always a chance that they won’t.”
- Received a program overview from Rock-Nobles Community Corrections Director Jon Ramlo, including data on the number of open cases and clients in 2015, compared to 2014. So far this year, RNCC has worked with 1,068 clients - 926 adults and 142 juveniles. The total number of clients is down slightly this year. As for cases, there are currently 1,324 open cases, with adults making up 1,131 of them and juveniles the rest.
The department works with individuals who are on supervised release, on monitors and those who are considered high risk probationers, as well as people with pre-trial conditional releases and warrants. The top three offenses of RNCC clients include driving while intoxicated (417 clients), drugs (393 clients) and traffic/accident cases (242 clients), which Ramlo said are often connected with drugs or alcohol.
Drug Court, one of the programs operated through RNCC, has 17 members enrolled currently, with another nine individuals taking part in the “Thinking for a Change” program.
Ramlo also told commissioners his department recently recognized one of its staff members, Morgan Woodbury, with the SPAM (Some People Are Marvelous) award.
- Appointed Commissioner Chairman and Vice-chairman Matt Widboom and Gene Metz, respectively, to the county’s budget committee.
- Approved the reappointment of Mitch Kling, Granite Falls, and Bill Ufkin, MInneota, to four-year terms on the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System board of commissioners to begin Jan. 1, 2016.
- Approved the appointment of Mary Larson, Worthington, to the Nobles County Library Board.