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Fiber broadband headed to Hawick and Long Lake

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has approved sending American Rescue Plan Act dollars to another high-speed broadband project, this time in Hawick and Long Lake. Approximately 289 properties will soon have access to fiber-to-the-home broadband, through Vibrant Broadband.

Traffic drives past Hawick along Minnesota Highway 23 the afternoon of Tuesday, April 26, 2022.
Traffic drives past Hawick along Minnesota Highway 23 the afternoon of Tuesday, April 26, 2022. The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners approved another $444,700 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to go toward broadband expansion.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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Editor's Note: Story corrected to reflect that Roseville and Irving Townships are still considering whether to provide funding for the broadband project.

WILLMAR — As Kandiyohi County continues to wait for the state to open the Border-to-Border broadband grant application window, with the hope of being awarded significant funding for a large broadband project, supporters of high-speed broadband remain focused on expanding the reach of broadband across the county.

Over the last several weeks, the Broadband and Advanced Technology Committee has been working closely with Vibrant Broadband of the Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association to design and obtain funding for broadband projects on the east side of the county.

The committee is part of the Kandiyohi County and city of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

Waterfowl cross 232nd Avenue in the heart of Hawick on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Approximately 289 properties in the Hawick area will soon have access to fiber-to-the-home broadband, through Vibrant Broadband.
Waterfowl cross 232nd Avenue in the heart of Hawick on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Approximately 289 properties in the Hawick area will soon have access to fiber-to-the-home broadband through Vibrant Broadband.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"Broadband has been such a priority for us and we've struggled to get things moving," said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Corky Berg.

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At the April 19 County Board meeting, the commissioners approved spending $444,700 of the county's American Rescue Plan Act allocation toward a fiber-to-the-home broadband project in Hawick and around Long Lake. The project would reach 289 properties that are currently underserved or unserved by high-speed broadband.

"It gives us the opportunity to start covering areas that probably wouldn't be covered. This is a great opportunity," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl. "I wish we could cover all corners of the county right away at the same time."

The total project is estimated to cost $1,005,000. Roseville and Irving townships are considering providing $57,800 in funding for the project, with Vibrant funding the rest.

Since the county's $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds began to arrive, the County Board has planned to dedicate nearly 75% of it to broadband expansion. While a few of the projects need grant approvals to move forward, the county has approved funding to a handful of smaller plans.

Charter will be expanding high-speed broadband to some properties in Dovre , New London and Burbank townships and Arvig is connecting properties in Prinsburg . The county provided American Rescue Plan Act funds to all of them.

"We have an opportunity to get a shovel in the ground yet this year," Kleindl said.

More Kandiyohi County Board:
The Kandiyohi County Board interviewed the three finalists Tuesday for the county administrator position. In a unanimous vote they will offer the position to Kelsey Baker, the current county administrator of Swift County. Current Kandiyohi County administrator Larry Kleindl is set to retire in February.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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