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Kandiyohi County hands out more money for broadband expansion

A broadband expansion project along 30th Avenue Northwest in Dovre Township was granted $56,000 from Kandiyohi County's American Rescue Plan Act allotment. The county commissioners approved the funding at the Dec. 21 meeting.

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The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners committed $56,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for a high-speed broadband project in Dovre Township. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune photo illustration
Erica Dischino

WILLMAR — Twenty-three homes along 30th Avenue Northwest in Dovre Township of Kandiyohi County might soon have access to high-speed broadband. A proposed Charter project would bring speeds up to 100 megabits download and 20 megabits upload to the area, which is currently considered unserved by the state.

"It is kind of isolated," said Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl at the Dec. 21 Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting. "We are trying to get them some broadband coverage."

Continuing its commitment to broadband expansion, the county commissioners approved granting the project $56,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, the latest in several projects to which the board has given money.

The total project is expected to cost $136,000, with Charter contributing $80,500, or 59%, of the cost. Construction is scheduled to begin in April.

Kleindl said Dovre Township will also be asked to participate, which might reduce the county's share of the bill. However, the county will cover the remaining costs if Dovre Township decides not to take part, as the county doesn't want Charter to pull out of the project.

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"This is a hole in this township," Kleindl said.

While the commissioners approved the funding unanimously, there were concerns about township participation, and not just in this project. Other townships are also being asked to provide some funding toward other broadband projects the county is helping to fund.

"Everybody needs some skin in the game here," said Commissioner Corky Berg.

Kleindl said that Dovre Township has been a good partner in the past.

"Dovre Township has worked very hard securing broadband in their township," Kleindl said. "I've been very impressed with their commitment."

When word came in April 2021 that the county would receive more than $8 million in American Rescue Plan funds, the commissioners committed to spending the vast majority of it, up to 75%, on broadband . Since then, they have given funds for seven projects, including this newest project. This totals just over $1,906,000 in American Rescue Plan funds from the county.

"We know this is a one-time shot to get broadband into our county area," Kleindl said.

The county has also applied for major broadband grants , the state Border to Border grant and the National Telecommunications and Information Association. The county is still awaiting word on whether the applications were successful.

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Broadband expansion has been a priority of the county for several years and, over the past two years, the county broadband committee has been working to find projects and funding to make sure all county residents have the adequate internet speeds needed to work, learn and play online.

"Broadband committee has been working really hard, to fill in the gaps around Kandiyohi County," Kleindl said.

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The area shaded in green is where the 30th Avenue Northwest broadband expansion project would cover in Dovre Township, Kandiyohi County. Contributed / Charter Communication, Kandiyohi County

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