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Third time’s the charm for Lynd broadband project

After years of trying, Woodstock Communications awarded $325,000 to bring improved broadband access to Lynd

Things were quiet along West Railroad Street in Lynd early Thursday afternoon. Woodstock Communications plans to extend improved broadband internet service to around 200 homes and businesses in Lynd this year, with the help of a state grant. Hopefully, the project will help encourage business and development in Lynd, city clerk Sue Paradis said.

LYND — After years of work and multiple tries, the city of Lynd finally got some good news late last week when Woodstock Communications was awarded a state grant to bring improved broadband internet to the community.

“We’ve been trying for the grant for three years. We looked at it multiple ways,” said Terry Nelson, general manager of Woodstock Communications.

On Jan. 28, Woodstock Communications learned it had received one of 39 Border-to-Border Broadband Grants awarded statewide. The $325,548 grant will help make it possible to extend fiberoptic cable to 203 homes, businesses and community buildings in Lynd.

The project will significantly improve internet speed in the community, Nelson said.

“It’s going to be fantastic. Hopefully it will help bring businesses into Lynd,” said Lynd City Clerk Sue Paradis. Having reliable internet access has become a vital part of both school and work, and Paradis said the COVID-19 pandemic has really driven home its importance. “There’s a lot of people who work from home now.”

Nelson said the plan will be for Woodstock Communications to start the excavation to lay fiberoptic cable in Lynd this spring or summer. A lot of the timing will depend on how quickly Woodstock can get the needed cable supply, he said.

“We’re pretty much sticking to the city limits of Lynd,” including the housing developments extending north past the Savannah Oaks golf course, Nelson said.

The total cost of the project is about $1 million, with Woodstock Communications providing a local match of $759,606, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said.

DEED awarded a total of $20.6 million to projects that would provide reliable high-speed internet access to underserved communities. The state grant dollars will be matched by a total of $33.6 million in local funds.

“The pandemic this past year has made it crystal clear that fast, reliable broadband access is critical for people living in Greater Minnesota – for everything from education and health care to business operations and telecommuting,” Gov. Tim Walz said in last week’s announcement. “These grants continue this vitally important work toward our goal of ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.”

Nelson said Woodstock Communications already serves the Russell and Balaton areas, so extending broadband service into Lynd was a good fit.

“We have fiber real close (to Lynd),” Nelson said — about two miles away, he said.

But it still took a couple of tries to secure the grant funding. Nelson said Woodstock Communications worked together with Lynd residents to make their case, with residents writing letters of support for the project.

“We had to show there was a need in the community,” he said.

Nelson said current internet speeds in Lynd range from five to 25 megabits per second, “But a lot of it is inconsistent.” With the new broadband project, speeds would be up to a gigabit per second, he said.

Nelson said Woodstock Communications sent out letters to Lynd residents to notify them of the project, and he planned to meet with members of the Lynd City Council to share more information on. Updates on the Lynd broadband project will also be posted on Woodstock Communications’ Facebook page, he said.

In addition to the Lynd project, grants were announced for area broadband projects in Murray, Redwood, Renville and Brown Counties. The Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company received a $219,714 grant to serve around 100 homes, businesses and farms in the town of Iona in Murray County. In the area of Redwood, Renville and Brown Counties, the Minnesota Valley Telephone Company received a $226,800 grant to put down fiber-optic cable in the city of Franklin and the townships of Sherman, Eden, Camp and Birch Cooley.

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