County board updates
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The Lake County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday.
County administrator Matt Huddleston updated the board on the broadband internet project. The county, doing business as Lake Connections, is installing a countywide broadband network, relying heavily on grants and loans from the U.S. Rural Utilities Service.
Huddleston said the county recently had a meeting with CenturyLink, an area internet provider, to communicate directly about the company’s plans for expansion. CenturyLink has applied for federal money on two occasions to extend its network into places where Lake Connections is planning to offer internet service. At the meeting, CenturyLink blamed the potential overlap on maps they were using that lacked detail.
“CenturyLink says it's not their intent to overbuild our area,” Huddleston said.
Crews are working on the first and second phases of the broadband project, burying fiber cables along the main line in Two Harbors and Silver Bay and hanging fiber between main drops. Officials estimate that service may be available later this fall.
“Every day we're getting closer to firing somebody up,” Commissioner Rich Sve said.
The county also debated its contract with Lockridge Grindal Nauen, Attorneys at Law, based in Washington, D.C. The office performs lobbying duties for the county on a $1500 per month contract. The contract, signed in April, recently expired, and Lockridge asked for an increased fee if the county wants to renew the contract.
The commissioners agreed that it’s difficult to put a price on the work Lockridge does, especially as there rarely are concrete results, but Commissioner Brad Jones said he feels a presence in Washington is necessary because of the broadband project.
“I feel that we need to continue on for now,” he said. “The numbers are too big. I hope we get this project completed and we can fully reassess … our needs.”
Huddleston said he would discuss renewing the contract with Lockridge, but no action was taken this week.
“I can't think of a firm I'd rather be with,” Sve said.