Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catch Up

I've attended several meetings these past (2) weeks and wanted to give you an overview.

Local Radio User's Committee Meeting
On February 1, Sheriff Falk called a meeting of local radio users to discuss the pros and cons of Cook County migrating from the current VHF Radio System Equipment to the State of Minnesota Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) Radio System.  This meeting was well attended by local Fire Departments, EMTs, Public Health, County Representatives, City Representatives, Law Enforcement, etc.  Advantages of going to ARMER--such as improved County-wide communications, improved confidentiality, and regional/statewide interoperability--were identified.  Disadvantages--such as the difficulties associated in changing the way we currently do business, coverage gaps, and costs--were also discussed.  A sub-committee of the Local Users Group (M. Prom, S. Perich, J. Clearwater, S. DuChien, J. Groth, S. Hakes, M. Falk) was created to continue addressing these issues.

Towers Ad Hoc Committee
On February 9, the Towers Ad Hoc Committee met to discuss concerns and issues regarding towers in Cook County.  There is a growing need for technical, administrative and legal support regarding existing towers and towers to be built in Cook County.  There is also a need for a business plan to maximize potential revenues by leasing space on these towers.  Towers play an important role in Public Safety, radio communications and cell phone service, as well as future uses including ARMER, expanded cell phone service and broadband.  Sheriff Falk, Duane Ege, Tim Scannell and Kirk Oberg will work as the core group supporting towers.

Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Association (AEOA)
I attended my first AEOA Board Meeting on February 9 in Virginia, MN at the AEOA Office.  Also representing Cook County on the AEOA Board is Andra Lilienthal from Community Education.  I've appreciated learning more about the AEOA organization these past weeks.  The work they do is far-reaching and touches Cook County in a number of ways including Community Education, Food Shelf, Arrowhead Transit, Head Start, Housing Rehab and more.  If you go to the AEOA website you will learn that "AEOA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and established as a Community Action Program (CAP) for the northeast Minnesota counties of St. Louis, Lake, and Cook.  Service delivery for some programs has extended to the four neighboring counties of Aitkin, Carlton, Itasca, and Koochiching.  AEOA strengthens communities by providing opportunities for people experiencing social and economic challenges."

Windomnet Presentation on Broadband
Today, Dan Olsen from Windom, shared his community's experiences around installing a broadband Fiber Optic Network, aka Windomnet.  It was extremely interesting to hear Olsen talk about the successes and challenges of this undertaking.  Dan--a 27 year telecom industry vet-- shared multiple success stories and the demand from the Windom area business community for Broadband Service.  Today's presentation was sponsored by Cook County Higher Ed, University of MN Extensions' Center for Community Vitality and Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC).  Olsen spoke before a very full Commissioner's Room filled with interested business owners and residents.