It is good news that Cass, Crow Wing and Todd counties will be receiving state assistance to help recover from the severe storms that struck in mid-July.
Preliminary damage estimates indicate approximately $1.3 million in damage. The state will cover 75 percent of eligible damage costs which, in this case are mainly emergency protective measures and debris removal. The counties are responsible for the remaining 25 percent.
The community has worked hard to clean up this mess and deserve huge credit. It is good to see financial assistance is on its way. Completion of the initial damage estimate process is another important step in the process of gaining state aid for costs related to the recovery effort.
PIPELINE LINE NO. 3 PUBLIC MEETING
Two public meetings will take place next week to discuss the Pipeline 3 Replacement Project. The meetings will be 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 25 at McGregor High School.
The Line No. 3 pipeline crosses through Minnesota, running from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, Wis. It was built in the 1960s and, after over 50 years of service, needs replacement. I plan to attend the meeting and will speak in support of the project, in particular from a public safety perspective.
It is orders of magnitude safer to transport crude oil by pipeline rather than rail car. Failing to replace Pipeline No. 3 likely will result in a huge amount of additional crude oil unit trains being added to an already-clogged rail system. Those unnecessary oil trains could end up routing right through the cities of Brainerd, Deerwood, Aitkin, McGregor and Tamarack.
BROADBAND GRANTS AVAILABLE
I encourages area cities, counties, businesses, non-profits, and other eligible applicants to apply for a grant to continue the expansion of Minnesota's broadband infrastructure.
The grants are available as a part of a $10.58 million Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program we approved at the Legislature this year. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 15.
Eligible applicants include incorporated businesses or partnerships, political subdivisions, Indian tribes, Minnesota non-profits, cooperative associations and limited liability corporations. Broadband projects must be located in unserved or underserved areas.
I recognize our part of Minnesota is severely underserved by broadband service. During the legislative session I went directly to leadership and insisted that we continue to support expanding broadband access in rural areas. This program is intended to close that gap and bring us up to the Internet standards other parts of the state enjoy.
Full details regarding program qualifications and application materials can be found by visiting the Minnesota Dept. of Employment and Economic Development website. You also can call me at 651-296-2365 or email email@example.com for assistance.