The newly-elected trio of Cass County Commissioners jumped on the topic of broadband during their first meeting of the year Jan. 9.
Interim broadband director Melissa Freeman presented three resolutions pertaining to moving forward with the issue, all which were approved unanimously by the commissioners.
The first item approved was a contract with Finley Engineering for voice, video and data service and the second item was an agreement for the county to solicit interest from providers.
The Finley contract would be payable out of COP funds, in two contracts of $15,250 each, totaling $30,500, Freeman said.
“The purpose of the contract would be to rebid our R’US Form 397 and 398,” she said. “Those are the central office and outside plant equipment contracts. They were previously bid under the direction of Universal Asset Management. Upon reviewing the bidding process and the outcome of two years ago, our equipment needs a change with the open access network.”
Freeman said the agreement for the county to solicit interest from providers is the precursor to a RFP.
“What it is designed to do is to solicit interest from prospective providers of voice, video and data service on the broadband network. The Cass Broadband Network is an open access enviroment, meaning Cass County will own the fiber asset, but will lease access to that fiber to the private sector so that voice, data and video providers can actually serve the end user, which would be the 11,500 residences, 700 businesses and anchor institutions in our service area," she said.
Finally, the last resolution was made in order for all three commissioners to be approved to receive management status on the broadband project in order to sign any USDA applications. Previously, former Associate Commissioner Brian Baker and current Treasurer Steve Cheslik held this authority.
The new commission will meet regularly at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays each week instead of every other week.