October 2020

Jefferson County Board Meeting

Broadband to be introduced into rural areas of Jefferson County 

By Cameron Slate/Capstone 

JEFFERSON— The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance on Tuesday, related to broadband internet access in some rural areas.  

A working group is set to address broadband internet access as well as future funding possibilities for certified rural communities. In a December 2018 meeting, the board approved an ordinance that would allow the county to hold a Broadband Forward! Certification.

A Broadband Forward! Community Certification signals that “a local unit of government has taken steps to reduce obstacles to broadband infrastructure investment.” 

The ordinance, created by the Public Service Commission (PSC), was designed for statewide consistency to level the playing field with persons who reside in urban areas. It was noted that the ordinance does not allow a community to discriminate between service providers. 

County board Chairman Jim Schroeder said it simply, “Internet access in 2019 should be like water or electricity.” Meaning, every household in any community needs it, and should have it. 

The chairman wasn’t the only person who thinks the committee should move forward with its internet access plan. A handful of supervisors noted how often county voters had called them in an effort to urge the board to get the ball rolling on the Broadband Working Committee. 

On Tuesday, the board made some steady progress in starting off the new broadband initiative by appointing a group of supervisors to serve on it. 

The working committee now consists of five people, four will come from the Economic Development Consortium, Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and the Planning and Zoning Committee. The rest of the vacant positions will be appointed by county board Chairman Jim Schroeder. 

The lack of broadband in the Jefferson area is concerning for any individuals without access, but it also hurts the working force in and around the county. Schroeder mentioned, “60% of the Jefferson population works outside of Jefferson, and many people might not be able to get there daily.”

While this seems like a transportation issue, it could be the product of hardworking individuals in rural areas not having access to proper opportunities, much like broadband internet. Schroeder went on to say, “we have people who live in rural areas who would like to run business out of their homes.”

County Supervisor Amy Rinard, of Ixonia voiced her approval on the broadband issue and her reasons for backing Jim Schroeder. 

“We really believe having access to broadband Internet is an economic development tool and helps increase property values and makes Jefferson County a more desirable place to live.”

Barb Frank’s Retirement 

It was before the approval of the working committee when the board decided to take a few minutes to congratulate Barbara Frank on her 38 years of service. While she did not work with the Jefferson County board for all 38 years, she served the county of Jefferson for the majority of her tenure. 

Several peers, including Barbara, said a few words while colorful pieces of cake made their way to each county board member. 

“They were 38 long years in Jefferson County, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” Frank said. 

“Thank you to the friends who have helped me over the years, and all of you for making my Tuesday nights very interesting.” 

The surprise of the night came from Schroeder and County Administrator Ben Wehmeier. Together they read a special proclamation, designating this Election Day, April 2, as Barb Frank Day in Jefferson County.

Barbara Frank will retire immediately after the 2019 spring election. 

In other County Board news Tuesday:

  • Approved having the Parks and Recreation Department apply for an Outdoor Recreational/Development Aids Grant to fund a snowmobile trail maintenance program.
  • Approved a $71,000 contract with Bos Design Builders for a storage building to be built at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office training facility in Lake Mills. 
  • Approved $50,500 contract with Sun Mechanical LLC to replace two boilers in the Human Services Workforce Development Building.
  • Approved a proclamation supporting April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

• The next board meeting will be held on April 16, at 5:00 p.m. The schedule has been altered due to the spring election.

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