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Winthrop News
Lafayette, Minnesota
March 26, 2014     Winthrop News
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March 26, 2014

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Friends & Family Letters to the Editor Winthrop News Wednesday, March 26, 2014 Page 7 Metro appreciates work of rural Minnesota Thanks are owed to Scott Blumhoefer of Heartland Corn Products who traveled to the Twin Cities on March 12th to ed- ucate local officials on economics and interstate commerce. The city of Minneapolis wants to force the Twin Cities and Westem Railroad (TCW) out of its current route through that city and onto a twisty, undulating route that would be built for approximately $250 million and add to the TCW's operating costs. Min- neapolis demands the freight rail relocation so a new light-rail pas- senger line can be built without moving a bicycle trail from its current location. Higher freight costs mean lower income for communities along the TCW and for that and multiple other reasons this re-route plan makes no sense to some of us in the Twin Cities who have been fighting the re- route for over four years. We are grateful that Mr. Blumhoefer weighed in on the issue, but our hopes for enlightenment of public officials are guarded. After Mr. Blumhoefer and several other shippers spoke at the March 12th meeting, Peter Wagenius, who represented Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges at the meeting stated, "We don't believe the shippers would be in trouble. We think the TC&W told them to say that because they are not getting free locomotives from taxpay- ers". Mr. Blumhoefer, as well as the people of McI.eod and Sibley counties need to know that some of us in the Twin Cities appreciate their contributions and those of the TCW to our state's economy. Jami LaPray and Thom Miller Co-chairs, Safety in the Park RS Fiber an opportunity for positive change To The Editor: My name is Mark Erickson. I am the Winthrop City Admin- istrator and EDA Director. For the past four years I have worked with the RS Fiber Joint Powers Board and the RS Fiber Cooper- ative on the fiber to the home and farm network project in Sib- Icy and Renville Counties. It is not very often people have an opportunity to individu- ally and collectively make posi- tive changes in their lives. Too often people find themselves the tail of the dog, so to speak, un- able to do much about their cir- cumstances. The RS Fiber Cooperative project represents a real oppor- tunity to affect positive change in your life and the lives of your children. Let me explain. Through the vision and hard work of hundreds of people dur- ing the past three years you have an opportunity to show your support for a project that will benefit nearly every person and business in the area. Like electricity nearly 100 years ago, fiber to the home technology has the power to transform the way you live, work, learn and play. But don't take my word for it. Ask Google and the 37 cities they are working with to build fiber to the home networks. Or ask the people and businesses lo- cated in the 135 community ini- tiated fiber to the home projects that are operating successfully today. Or ask the thousands of farm families hooked up to the 10,000 square mile fiber to the farm network that is operated by cooperatives in North Dakota. How fast and reliable your connection to the Intemet is today is in direct relation to the benefit you are able to receive in your home or business. Those people living in rural areas with slow Internet connections know what I'm talking about. Phone and cable companies generally do a good job provid- ing services. The problem is they rely on connections to your home made of copper. Those copper connections have limita- tions. In fact, those copper con- nections represent yesterday's technology. Like the tractor was to the horse, fiber optics networks are to copper networks. One just re- places the other. And while you can still plow your field with a horse, almost everyone chooses to use tractors. It's the same with your Inter- net connection. You might be able to get by with a 5 or 10 megabit Internet connection today, but sometime in the near future you, your children or your business are going to need a 50 or 100 megabit symmetrical connection to take full advantage of the benefits the Intemet offers. Unfortunately, copper and wire- less networks are unable meet those needs. For rural residents, copper networks just can't reach that far. Why suffer the "spinning dial of death," as many rural people call the rotating icon on their computer screen as they wait for something to load, when you have an opportunity to get hooked up to an incredibly fast fiber optic connection? The goal of the RS Fiber Co- operative is to connect every home and business in the project area to a future proof fiber optic network. When the fiber network is constructed there will be new opportunities for our children to learn, our senior citizens to live in their homes longer, our busi- nesses to reach out to customers, our farmers to innovate and our governments to provide more ef- ficient services to their con- stituents. And that's with the software applications we have today. Tomorrow's innovation promises even greater benefit, but only if your home or busi- ness is connected to a fiber optic network. Unfortunately the RS Fiber Cooperative network cannot be built without a certain element of risk. But if we want to change our lives for the better we need to be willing to "have some skin in the game." The 10 cities in the project area (Brownton, Buffalo Lake, Fairfax, Gaylord, Gibbon, Green Isle, Lafayette, New Auburn, Stewart and Winthrop) have asked the boards of supervisors of 21 townships in the project area (17 in Sibley County and four in Renville County) to part- ner with them and provide a $15 million economic development loan to the RS Fiber Cooperative to help them attract additional fi- nancing to build and operate the fiber network. There is risk in the project but, in my opinion, that risk is not just small, it is miniscule when compared to the tremen- dous benefit the fiber network can bring to our area. I would ask all of you to take a few moments and learn more about the RS Fiber Cooperative project. Go to the website at for more in- formation or to submit a pledge card. Or check us out on Face- book at fiber. Attend one of the public meetings about the project. Ask questions. State your opinions. Whether you are for or against the project, you should be part of the conversation. I have a saying on a wall in my office that I look at every day. It says that change cannot be made without inconvenience, even when that change is from worse to better. We have an opportunity to make our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, better but it can't happen without the inconvenience of putting ourselves at some degree of risk. Respectfully, Mark Erickson FTTH will result in higher taxes Dear fellow Sibley County residents: Although many of you have thrown away your latest Fiber to the Home (VI'TH) packet, everyone needs to un- derstand that if this project does not go away, you and your neighbors and family members will be paying higher taxes for years even if you do not have a 'drop' or subscribe to any of the services. Yet, there is hope. In early March, the mayor for the City of Arlington, thank- fully said no to this project with two councilmembers. These city leaders should be com- mended for keeping Arlington out of this confusing scheme. Please go to your library and read the March 20, 2014 Ar- lington News to understand their thoughtful concerns. Meanwhile, I will attempt to summarize why many of us are so opposed to bTI'H: (1) Rightfulness: This is not right. Ensuring high-speed interact is not the proper role of government. Local govern- ment was never involved in the telephone business over the past 138 years and since March 10, 1876 America has had the best telephone service in the world. (2) We already have it: Presently almost anywhere in Sibley County anyone can get high speed intemet at a reason- able cost from more than one service provider. Why would a government entity rush head- long into trenching or boring through our cities and town- ships just to deliver something we can already buy now? (3) No investment pro- tection: Everyone - you, me, every resident in every city, every township - is on the hook if, when, this thing does not pencil out the way we are told it will. We will be liable for all debts even if you did not sub- scribe. (4) Changing FFTH model: Several months ago after FFFH failed the first go- round I was told by the hugest proponent that the FFFH proj- ect was going to be structured as a Co-op, like a UFC or South Central, and that no taxpayers will be at risk. Maybe it was true then in the chalkboard stage but it is not true now. We are at risk. And we don't get to vote about it. For whatever reasons, my city, Winthrop, seems to be the center of all this FITH activity. Most of us are all a little un- clear as to why so earlier this week, under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chap- ter 13, I asked the city adminis- trator for the opportunity to view all time logs and travel logs for all Winthrop employ- ees involved in the FITH proj- ect going back to 2010. I would like to be assured that our taxes are paying for our city employees to work on city business and not on some non- necessary joint powers or joint county project that is not essen- tial for Winthrop residents and already failed once. Finally, there are many fine people that want FTTH. Re- grettably, it seems that one FTTH tactic is to get these good people to bicker with each us, family member against fam- ily member, neighbor against neighbor. This is not worth it. If anyone asks you to pledge to FTTH, please stand firm and just say no thank you. No one wins with this project as it is presently structured. Sincerely, Mark Santelman Winthrop Work000000g to keep aft ages informed The Winthrop News is working hard to keep you informed with the local news, business happenings, sports, community events and more. We are proud in this issue to bring to the attention of our readership, news that Winthrop and Gibbon has continued to strive for progress and growth. The addition of new businesses, compa- nies under new ownership and expansion of current firms is good news for everyone. Wintfirop News 110 North Carver PO Box L. Winthrop, MN 55396 507-647-5357 email-- _ Subscribe to the Winthrop News today. Just $35 in Minnesota or $40 Out-of-State ....... i [ iiii iiiiiii HiiiiirRiriBirl :::::::::::?7 .  _ ::::::::::::::::::::: ::::'l:lrlrln : ............ 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