ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Broadband heads to Bay Lake, Baxter neighborhoods

The use of pandemic-related funding for this purpose, county officials said, improves residents’ ability to conduct their affairs via remote technology, whether it be distance learning, working from home or telemedicine.

WCT.stock.broadband.13
The projects, set for construction this summer, are the latest in a flurry of grant-funded broadband buildouts in Crow Wing County since the onset of the pandemic
Getty Images/iStockphoto

BRAINERD — The expansion of broadband internet access continues in Crow Wing County with the approval of two more projects supported by federal coronavirus relief funds.

The Crow Wing County Board Tuesday, April 26, unanimously approved directing more than $766,000 of its pot of American Rescue Plan Act funding toward installation of fiber in Bay Lake Township and the city of Baxter.

The use of pandemic-related funding for this purpose, county officials have said, improves residents’ ability to conduct their affairs via remote technology, whether it be distance learning, working from home or telemedicine.

The Bay Lake Township Board and Baxter City Council previously agreed to contribute some of their own federal allocations to cover the project costs and telecommunications company CTC, which will install the new lines, is providing matching funds.

“We know that there is strong local support for these projects,” said County Administrator Tim Houle.

ADVERTISEMENT

Map shows streets set for broadband installation
The red dotted line shows streets east of Crooked Lake in Bay Lake Township set for new broadband installation this summer after the Crow Wing County Board approved expending some of its federal pandemic relief funding on the project.
Contributed / Crow Wing County

In Bay Lake Township, those set to gain access to broadband include residents of the neighborhood east of Crooked Lake, spanning the length of Warren Drive and the roads intersecting. The expansion also includes a portion of Highway 6 to the north. The total cost of the project is expected to be $478,020, with Crow Wing County covering about three-quarters at $347,416. Bay Lake Township will throw in $35,000 with CTC adding $95,604.

In Baxter, CTC will install broadband in a southeastern neighborhood along part of Forestview Drive and the intersecting River Vista Drive, which runs along the western banks of the Mississippi River. Earlier this month, the Baxter City Council voted 3-1 to contribute $70,000 of the city’s federal funding to the effort. Crow Wing County’s $160,644 addition represents about 56% of the estimated total cost of $288,330, with CTC spending $57,666.

Map showing streets set for broadband construction
The red dotted line shows where CTC will install broadband in Baxter after the Crow Wing County Board agreed Tuesday, April 26, 2022, to spend some of its American Rescue Plan Act funding on the project. The city of Baxter and CTC will also contribute.
Contributed / Crow Wing County

Houle told commissioners Tuesday one more collaborative broadband project using federal relief dollars is in the pipeline in the Ideal Township area.

More Crow Wing County coverage
The Crow Wing County Board approved the use of ARPA funds for internal needs in March 2022, after which the corrections department received authorization to hire two full-time probation agents.

The projects, set for construction this summer, are the latest in a flurry of grant-funded broadband buildouts by CTC since the onset of the pandemic, including those approved last month in Long Lake and Lake Edward townships.

In 2020, Crow Wing County appropriated $1.5 million of its funding from the first federal relief package — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — toward three expansion efforts: Camp Vanasek in Baxter and the surrounding area, an area surrounding Borden Lake including the township halls of Bay Lake and Garrison, and a corridor along County Highway 13 in Lake Edward Township.

In February 2021, CTC received $350,805 from the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program and matched those funds to install broadband for 180 unserved homes and businesses in Ross Lake Township.

And later in 2021, Crow Wing County received a $5 million federal grant on behalf of CTC to target low- and moderate-income communities. The project proposed by CTC covered broadband installation in an area to the north and northwest of Crosby-Ironton, including Cuyuna, Trommald and Wolford Township, as well as a portion of Irondale Township to the south. A total of 919 homes or businesses are located within the project area, and 492 of those are currently unserved.

Last summer, TDS Telecom apprised the Pequot Lakes City Council of its plans to install 12.5 miles of fiber to bring better broadband service to about 1,080 service addresses, with the goal of that project to be completed by November. This was part of a larger project to lay 60 miles of fiber throughout Cass and Crow Wing counties, including the communities of Breezy Point, Jenkins, Pine River, Backus and Hackensack.

ADVERTISEMENT

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What To Read Next
The extra staff person, if approved, would clear sidewalks in the downtown area and be responsible for landscaping and parks maintenance in the warmer months.
The newest Baxter City Council member was sworn in Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Sale is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Park United Methodist Church in Brainerd.
Harold Wassather pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree without intent.