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Council OKs Charter moving TV channels

WILLMAR — Charter Communications has received approval from the Willmar City Council to move the city’s three public access channels to new channel locations.

The council Monday night approved a change in the city’s cable TV franchise agreement with Charter that allows Charter to move the public access channels currently located at 8, 18 and 19 to 180, 181 and 188. The move takes effect around September 1.

The change in the franchise agreement was recommended by the four-member Citizens Cable Advisory Committee, which met August 13.

Committee member and councilman Denis Anderson said the change means that sometime in September, Charter cable subscribers will no longer be watching the council meetings on channels 8, 18 and 19. They will view the council meetings on a different channel in the 180 range.

“You will be advised of that. But just be aware that that’s going to happen,’’ Anderson said.

Rudy Vigil, cable coordinator for Willmar Regional Access Channels, told the council that Charter will advertise the change. He said the change does not affect Windstream cable subscribers.

In an interview Tuesday, Vigil said the relocation of Willmar’s three public access channels has nothing to do with Charter’s transition to an all-digital signal in the Willmar area.

In related business, the council approved a request from the Citizens Cable Advisory Committee to transfer $25,000 from the WRAC reserve to pay for interior improvements and repairs and sign improvements to the WRAC studio building that the city has owned in downtown Willmar since 1994.

Willmar Avenue vacation

In other business Monday, the council approved a staff recommendation to vacate a portion of Willmar Avenue Southwest between the BNSF Railway crossing and the road previously known as state Highway 40 Southwest.

The Willmar Avenue Southwest vacation is part of the project to relocate Willmar Avenue Southwest through the industrial park.

The vacation is also part of the city land sale to Jennie-O Turkey Store to provide space for the company’s corporate office expansion.

The Planning Commission approved a resolution recommending the council vacate the street.

Prior to approving the vacation, the council held a hearing to get comments from the public. Bob Enos of Willmar commented he was sure the council was meeting the letter of the law to provide a forum for public comment on the project. But he said the comment won’t make any difference unless the city was prepared to put the road back where it was and fill the hole.

In the future, Enos said he hopes the city will “time this out a whole lot more appropriately so that the public has reason to feel that its input is going to make some kind of a difference into the decision-making process.’’

Responding to criticism by Enos, Bruce Peterson, city planning and development director, said in an interview Tuesday that the project has many components, all of which were discussed early on in the process. Peterson said a schedule was developed to address each piece of the process.

Because of the timing of the Willmar Avenue construction and the opening of the new crossing, the vacation of this portion of Willmar Avenue was for logical reasons done at the end.

“It was nothing that was sprung on the community or the taxpayers,’’ Peterson said. “It was discussed fully in the course of the project discussions and in putting together a project schedule.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150