Communications are expected to be upgraded in the near future given the recent purchase of Price County Telephone Company by telecommunications cooperative Norvado, according to CEO Chad Young.

Young offered information to the Price County Board of Supervisors last week saying that Norvado is one of the largest independent cooperatives operating in the region and has acquired PCTC and combined their workforces.

Norvado began operating in Bayfield County and Young said that he is hoping the Price County area will embrace and support their efforts.

He said that Norvado was pleased to find PCTC in great financial shape.

“They have run lean and I commend them for that,” Young said. “We are also pleased to have acquired a good staff.”

He noted that PCTC does have some fiber in the ground, but there are many dollars yet to be invested to build rural connections.

“We are going to take a slower approach, but it is our hope to get 100% fiber across the county,” he said. “We are talking about a $20 to $30 million investment over a three to five-year time frame.”

He expects to get some support for federal grant money for the project.

“We hope to move broadband forward and in such a rural setting that is going to take some time, but we’re hopeful we will get the support of the property owners as we begin to offer better service,” Young said.

In other business, county board chairman Bob Kopisch said there were eight resolutions to be considered at the June meeting, some being sent off to the state legislature for consideration.

“We have to keep trying,” Kopisch said.

The resolutions included adopting the 2020- 2029 Price County Land and Water Resource Management Plan; requesting the state to provide additional funding for Child Protective Services; eliminating the zero operating levy cap for counties; designating general funds for the purpose of parcel replanting of trees; supporting broadband access efforts; ratifying the spring land sale; and amending a previous resolution regarding requests to apply for two dam grant programs to improve Solberg and Musser Dams.

The newly restructured tourism efforts are moving along nicely according to reports from Laurie Hansen of the Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce and Ed Kane from the Park Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

Hansen reported that she’d attended a meeting on regional tourism and said she felt the group was poised to make some changes and hopefully spark more visitors to come to the area.

One of the attractions this summer will be a museum-like observance of the 125th anniversary of the 1894 Phillips fire. A time capsule will be opened and the descendants of the 13 victims of the fire are being asked to provide any items or photographs to share. The event is set for 3 p.m. on July 27, the exact time the huge conflagration started so many years ago.

Kane said he has been meeting with different chambers to ferret for new ideas including advertising covers and now working with the Janesville Gazette.

The group has been working on flyers on ATV trails and also very popular fishing guides with the help of St. Croix Rods.

The area will be featured in a new magazine and tourists have been asking for maps that are marked with cell phone and broadband service areas.

Both representatives said they have had an influx of new members and are experiencing more visits from tourists in their offices as the summer vacation season is heading towards full throttle.

Finally, at the request of the board, Jon Hochkammer from the Wisconsin Counties Association offered a presentation on the administrative structure and the roles and responsibilities of county board members.

Besides offering information on the governmental structure of the county, Hochkammer said board members should be educated on such things as the annual meeting and to whom authority in the structure is given, also a review of the role of each board member and the county board chairman and county administrator. Board members are to serve on committees and report the considerations of those committees. Also discussed were policies and how those were set.

“The board can establish as many standing or advisory committees as it deems necessary,” Hochkammer said. “The county government structure is unlike any other.”

The County Board does not meet in July but will be back in session at 9 a.m., Aug. 20.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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