Town of Morse hoping for funding from proposed state broadband bill

The Morse town board is hoping the state will come through with funding for a broadband project.
Extending broadband to areas in Morse that have dial-up type service was discussed at a meeting Tuesday night.
State Rep. Rob Ecklund is the chief author of a bill that would provide $15 million in 2019, $35 million in 2020 and $35 million in 2021 for broadband projects across the state.
A senate bill has no funding for 2019 and $30 million in 2020.
Ecklund said Thursday his bill has been moving ahead in the House.
“It’s been added to the jobs bill as an article in it. We’ll be voting on it the first Tuesday after Easter recess.
“To speak to Morse Township and Fall Lake Township, I’ve talked to Dana McKenzie at the Office of Broadband and she figures both those areas should qualify if there’s a provider that comes up with a proposal request.
“I’m qualify hoping Lake Connections for Fall Lake and Frontier I would imagine for Morse. We’ve got to have a provider to do the proposal and get the funding.
“Satellite providers if they meet the criteria can also put in a request.
“I think it has a good chance. We’re going to have some kind of bill come out of there. But the Senate has been lowballing the House on just about every bill so there will be interesting conference committees,” said Ecklund.
Morse has proposed a two phase, $1.1 million project to extend fiber along Highway 88 and up the Echo Trail, along with Van Vac Road and Wolf Lake Road. Over 460 homes would see high speed internet along with several businesses.
“We’ve got a shot at maybe getting some money,” said board chair Terry Soderberg. “We’ll see if they’ll approve some.”
Supervisor Bob Berrini said Morse’s pitch to include funding from the township has resonated with elected officials.
Clerk Nick Wognum gave an update on the city’s attempt to trade land with St. Louis County in order to acquire 60 acres at the old dump site in Morse.
The city has put up a 46 acre parcel south of the golf course the county is interested in.
This move could trigger an annexation project that would give the city land it needs for a proposed housing project through a dump clean up project.
In other business the board:
• Will conduct its annual road inspection on May 6 at 6 a.m.
• Will hold a Board of Appeal and Equalization on May 9 from 9-10 a.m. at the town hall.
• Declined to participate in the city of Ely’s Spring Clean Up Days.
• Approved recreation funding: Ely Golf Club for the Youth Golf League $600; Prospector ATV Trail $500; Ely Little League $900; Ely Track Club $400; Ely Klown Band $400; Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club $900; Ely Community Education $900; Ely Hoop Club $400; All Night Graduation $500; Ely Nordic Ski Club $400; Ely Baseball Association $750; Ely Softball $400; Ely Blue Line $400; PTO $400; Ely Touchdown Club $400; Northwoods Care Partners $450; Ely Area Girls Softball $400; End of the Road Archers $400; and funding through the joint powers board for ECR $900; NLAA $500 and Ely Greenstone Art $500.
• Approved the Ely Echo as the township’s official newspaper.
• Reviewed the lodging tax numbers and the lack of information on the number of rooms and occupancy rates “in order to give an apples to apples comparison from year to year.”
• Voted to name Bob Berrini as chair for 2019.
• Approved heavy equipment operator wages of $22.50 per hour and mechanic wage of $26 per hour.
• Increased the wages for election judges to $15 per hour.
• Heard the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools will meet in Ely on April 25 at the Twin Metals office in Ely.
• Changed the date of the next board meeting to May 8 at 5 p.m.