In late September I had the pleasure of attending the Wisconsin Counties Association annual conference in La Crosse, WI with a few Iowa County Supervisors. Together we took various classes geared toward major issues impacting Iowa County. There were classes on facility security, welfare caseload increases, the future of juvenile corrections, program evaluation techniques, human trafficking, farm bankruptcies and their impact, broadband in rural areas, and many other training opportunities.
Rural broadband is an issue that hits close to home for me. The Iowa County Board has repeatedly set goals to improve our County's access to faster internet speeds at a reasonable price. I can't say that we have made as much progress as I would like, but we are progressing, and that is why I was invited to speak about Rural Broadband at the Wisconsin Counties Association conference. Wisconsin has many rural counties and just about all of them are challenged with broadband access.
Iowa County has made strides in rural access to broadband over the past three years. Much of this has been directly attributed toward the County Board's forward thinking and our valuable partnerships with MHTC in Dodgeville. MHTC has aggressively pursued wireless technology to provide rural services at an affordable rate. Iowa County is a Wisconsin "Broadband Forward! Community"; the first County in Wisconsin to get onboard. Iowa County has also applied for a Wisconsin Public Service Broadband Expansion Grant every single time they have been offered!
As luck should have it, there is another provider who has moved into our region. Bug Tussel is putting up 111 new cellular towers in Western Wisconsin, more than 10 of them here in Iowa County! Each of these towers will provide Bug Tussel wireless internet service to rural County residents.
With the improvements that have happened so far, Iowa County is on a great path. I can't wait to see what additional advancements will be made in the future!