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Klobuchar meets with Wadena businessmen, leaders to discuss broadband

Monday, April 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shari Wormwood
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-Wadenda Pioneer Journal
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited with area leaders Wednesday, April 12 to discuss the need for statewide broadband service.


The roundtable discussion, which took place at the Maslowski Research and Wellness Center, was packed with area leaders including Mayor George Diese; Don Niles, a member of the Governor's task force on broadband; Wadena County Commissioners Jim Hofer and Sheldon Monson; Wadena-Deer Creek Superintendent Lee Westrum; Brad Swenson, city administrator; Curt Kreklau, Wadena County IT Director; Mark Hanson, WCEDA; Chad Bullock, CEO of West Central Telephone Association; Jason Dale, Cooperative Network Services; Ross Olson, Director at Bell Hill; Kevin Wellen, Menahga School District Superintendent; Mark Frank, Menahga High School; Monte Johnson, Academic Dean at M State-Wadena; Tim Pavek, Member Service Director at Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative; Paul Drange, NJPA and Paul Brownlow, Verndale School District Superintendent.

Klobuchar's visit to Wadena was part of a two-day, 10-county tour. She joined business and education leaders across Northern Minnesota to highlight her legislation and initiatives to strengthen Minnesota's workforce and bridge the skills gap.


Klobuchar, a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, and U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) led a group of 56 senators in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue advancing broadband deployment in rural communities.


Last month, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced legislation to measure the economic impact of broadband on the U.S. economy. In January, Klobuchar and Capito, along with Senators Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and John Boozman (R-AR), led 48 senators in urging President Trump to include broadband in any infrastructure initiative. Also in January, Klobuchar successfully included the following bipartisan provisions into the Mobile Now Act when it passed the Senate Commerce Committee:

• To cut red tape by ensuring that states coordinate highway construction projects with broadband providers so that broadband infrastructure can be installed at the same time—known as "dig once."

• To direct the FCC to conduct a rulemaking on opportunities for partitioning or dis-aggregating spectrum licenses to facilitate leasing unused spectrum to rural and smaller carriers and encouraging collaboration between companies to bridge service gaps in rural areas.


Attendees shared with Klobuchar the need for broadband services as technology in various fields grows. Pavek told the senator that 50 percent of Todd-Wadena members cannot access the cooperative website or pay their bill online due to lack of service.


Niles spoke about how families with students that qualify for free or reduced lunches can't afford internet service. He added that the proposed Minnesota budget is calling for cuts in funding, from $35 million last year, to $7 million this year.

Klobuchar spoke about a $1 trillion proposal that congress is to consider that would include broadband funding.

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