Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Gov. Walker visits Rhinelander to highlight Northwoods portion of $1.5 million in broadband grantsSubmitted: 08/18/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Gov. Walker visits Rhinelander to highlight Northwoods portion of $1.5 million in broadband grants
RHINELANDER -
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story inaccurately credited the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation with securing grant funding for internet projects in Land O' Lakes and Conover.  That money was secured through grant applications from ChoiceTEL.  Newswatch 12 regrets the error.

Paul Osterman can't rest for too long on a congratulations from Governor Scott Walker.

"It's a busy time, absolutely," Osterman said.  "Now the real work begins."

The Northwoods Connect CEO joined Walker at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport on Friday morning to celebrate about $110,000 for new broadband towers in Oneida and Florence Counties.

"We're growing pretty rapidly, which is exciting and hard at times too," Osterman said.


Osterman's share is part of $1.5 million in broadband grants the governor and Public Service Commission doled out this summer.

"We want to have access in every part of the state of Wisconsin so that every citizen and every small business has access to high speed internet connections," Walker said.

Companies can use the money to build internet towers and lay important high speed wiring.

"Why I like it, even as a guy that doesn't like spending a lot of government money is it's one time," Walker said. "Once we're in, we lay that network down, then the cost to provide service is manageable."

The grant funding was a competitive process. The state received 53 applications totaling $7.4 million in requests. Northwoods counties pulled in about 15 percent of the total money awarded.

"These communities are shining examples of public/private partnerships and those local voices working together," Wisconsin State Broadband Director Angie Dickison said.

Partnerships have led to much-needed service in places like Land O' Lakes.  Eagle River-based ChoiceTEL teamed up with the town to secure more than $200,000 over two years for a fiber-optic project in the northern Vilas County community.  There is an additional project in Conover, where there are many seasonal homes in both communities.

"If you can get these people to stay here instead of two weeks, if you can get them here for three or four months, it's just a huge boon to the economy," Vilas County Economic Development Corporation Exec. Director Bob Egan said.

The broadband money should help the Northwoods adapt its economy from a place largely reliant on tourism to one where business can still get done.

"Be disconnected, that was actually part of advertising for tourism in the area [in the past,] Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) said. "You can't do that anymore. People want to come up here and be connected."

Thanks to this state funding, that's finally a reality in rural reaches of the Northwoods, where companies like Northwoods Connect don't plan to rest.  Osterman plans to build towers near Long Lake and several other places in Florence County.  The Oneida County tower locations have not been decided yet, but a new tower in the town of Crescent will likely be up before the end of summer.

"Not only grow, but help the residents have affordable broadband service," Osterman said.

There is an additional $11 million dollars in broadband grants packed into each year of the next state budget. Governor Walker said Friday he expects the budget to pass "before the end of summer", naming Sep. 22 as the official start of fall.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

CASSIAN - Multiple fire departments gathered on Saturday for some ice rescue training in Oneida County. But that training session also included some special guests.

The Cassian, Little Rice, Nokomis, and Tomahawk Fire departments joined up for the training. But, for the first time, the fire departments also invited snowmobile clubs to come and observe.

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - A Northwoods fire department used some of its money gained through fundraising to help other first responders stay safe.

"For lack of a better term it works like a bomb," said Woodruff Assistant Fire Chief Victor Gee. 

The Woodruff Fire Department invested in five "X-tinguish" fire suppression tools.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - These days, it can feel like physical stores get overshadowed by online shopping. But that's not completely true in Rhinelander.

A new women's clothing boutique opened today in downtown Rhinelander.

Oak Tree Boutique owner and Rhinelander native Amber Bellile remembers a time from her childhood when downtown flourished.

"Over the years once I moved away and would come back I noticed businesses were shutting down," said Bellile. 

+ Read More

WAUSAU - Police arrested a Tomahawk man and Wausau woman Thursday for going on the run with 290 pounds of marijuana, three guns, and two stun guns.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol helped arrest 32-year-old Joel Helding near Osseo in western Wisconsin.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander District Library recently added a program to make the library more inclusive. 

"[It's] designed specifically for kids on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing needs, but any kids and families who feel like they just want a little more laid back, hands-on story time it would be appropriate," said children's librarian Katie Kubisiak.

+ Read More

ASHLAND COUNTY - A prosecutor has cleared a sheriff's deputy in a 14-year-old boy's death.

+ Read More

Play Video

- On Friday, a Northwoods bank went above and beyond to celebrate National Popcorn Day. Minocqua's River Valley Bank had a kettle machine up and running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The bank partnered with Minocqua popcorn for the fundraising event.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here