County lauded as leader in Broadband, wireless access

“We are the leader in the state,” said Clare City Treasurer Steven Kingsbury at the City meeting May 21.

He was referring to the county’s progress to provide high-speed internet access throughout the area.

Kingsbury reported that there are now four towers up for wireless access through the Broadband initiative. “Freeman Township just approved a new tower,” he added. “All this just makes us more and more attractive as a destination and vacation spot in the State.”

Broadband came to the area in the mid 1990s through a project by the Clare Gladwin Regional Education Service District in collaboration with Mid Michigan Community College. The Clare County Enterprise Community also began working on technology infrastructure and in late 2008; the Clare County Broadband initiative was first conceived. In 2009 the CCEC provided funds to expand the focus and develop wireless for those without cable access. Phase I connected the Cities of Clare, Harrison, Farwell, County offices, Sheriff’s Department, Village of Farwell Surrey Township and the three community libraries. Phase II involved a partnership with ISP Management, a wireless Internet Service Provider based in Alma, to develop the county-wide wireless service. Four towers: in Sheridan, Arthur, Hamilton and Franklin Townships, were erected covering the eastern side of Clare County.

At the City meeting, Kingsbury said Merit Communication would receive $100,000 through a Governor’s initiative to be used throughout the state to upgrade technology and provide high speed access. He added that representatives from Clare had been asked by Connect Michigan to come to Lansing and speak about this area’s Broadband success.

In his report to the Commission, City Manager Ken Hibl said the Michigan Department of Transportation was planning a $3.5 million road improvement project for US Business Route 10 from Sunset Avenue in Clare eastbound to the US-10 interchange. The project is scheduled for later summer or in the fall of 2013.

Other business at the Clare City meeting included:

*Approval of bids for the new Pettit Park Pavilion. Hibl said Seiter Brothers was low bidder at 9,600. The new building will mimic the old Shamrock Park pavilion. The funds will come from the Parks and Rec millage.

*Approval of a contractor’s payment totaling $20,516.95 to J. Ranck Electric for work on the Waste Water Treatment Plant project.

*Approval of a MERS supplemental retirement program allowing individual contributions by public employees.