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Broadband project to break ground September 1

Mavis Fodness

A company familiar with the county’s rock formations has been hired to bury 554 miles of fiber optic cable for the upcoming countywide broadband project.
Three years ago Michel’s Corporation, headquartered in Brownsville, Wisconsin, buried the power cable and constructed the overhead electrical lines for the Prairie Rose Wind Farm in northwest Rock County.
The project earned satisfactory reviews from landowners and county personnel involved with the project.
“They did a terrific job,” said Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre.
Michel’s recently submitted the lowest bid at the bid opening conducted by Alliance Communications in Garretson, South Dakota, on Aug. 4.
Andy Hulcher, technical supervisor with Alliance, updated county commissioners on the joint fiber-to-the-home project at their Aug. 18 meeting.
Alliance received six bids on the estimated $14 million project. Bids ranged from $10.6 to $15 million to bury the fiber optic cable.
“We are pretty happy to have them,” Hulcher said.
He said a mass mailing to Rock County households would take place in early September. The mailing will detail rates and services that will be available once the fiber is buried and activated for service.
“They (Michel’s) could start this fall but they won’t,” he said.
Citing completion of current projects and preparation for the Rock County project would push the beginning of the fiber installation to spring 2016. Project completion is expected to be in late 2016.
Tentative plans have Michel’s two plow crews starting in Kanaranzi Township and working in a clockwise progression ending in Magnolia.
Hulcher said the company would get a good feel for the installation progress before pulling fiber through and around the rock formations that dot the county. The company has the rock saws and jackhammers necessary for working with the Sioux quartzite.
Work, however, could start in the five hubs located throughout the county that connect the network’s fiber ring.
The 12-by-20-foot structures house equipment and Hulcher said construction on the hubs in Jasper, Hardwick and Beaver Creek could begin this fall.
Once the fiber is connected, workers will connect to individual homes.
“We can pull customers over as soon as the fiber is up and functioning,” Hulcher said.
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 11:30 a.m., Sept. 1, in Luverne at 131st Street and Sioux Valley Drive near Sanford Luverne Hospital

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