Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This is a joyous season as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. Linda and I will be spending time with our children and grandchildren during the holidays, so we will take a short break on legislative updates.
Last week I attended the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council’s annual marketing review. The group was hosted by Appeldoorn's Sunset Bay Resort on Mille Lac’s Lake. We spent the evening examining this year’s results and unveiling a very aggressive marketing plan for 2016.
John Edman from Explore MN Tourism and Aaron Hautala of Red House Media detailed what has been done and how to continue to build on the “Do the Lake” http://millelacs.com/ theme that highlights the many outstanding recreational opportunities the Mille Lac’s Lake complex offers.
Later in the week I returned to Appeldorns, this time for a Mille Lac’s Lake Fishery Advisory Group meeting. The group continues to work with the DNR on how best to enhance the lake’s walleye fishery.
They set a very aggressive schedule for 2016, with two meetings planned in January, (11th and 28th) and two additional meetings in February, locations and dates to be determined.
Yesterday, I traveled to Eveleth for our final IRRRB meeting of the year. We authorized several Mining Reinvestment Fund rebates for major capital investments at various pellet production facilities. We also joined the state’s Broadband Office in supporting a broadband project located in central part of the iron range.
The IRRRB portion of the grant was approved after some discussion. It is apparent with the advent of the federal Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II program that we must review and adjust our state broadband program to deconflict potential duplication between the state and federal programs.
CenturyLink and Frontier in Minnesota will receive in excess of $486 million in federal CAF II broadband funds over the next six years. We need to ensure we don’t get in each other’s way in this effort. We must work together in a cooperative manner to the benefit of rural Minnesota. More to follow in 2016 on this complex subject.
Again, Merry Christmas and may God bless each of you as we enter an exciting new year!