Expansion for Rural Wisconsin
Over the last several weeks, I have co-hosted broadband meetings in Grant
and Lafayette counties to learn about the needs of our rural communities and
to make connections with the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program. This
program is offering $6 million in grant funds to communities to bring
broadband technology to unserved and underserved areas of our state. The
federal government has also launched the Connect American Fund (CAF) Phase II
for 2015-2020. More than $572 million has been awarded among AT&T,
Centurylink and Frontier to “deploy broadband in unserved and underserved
The state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program is meant to offer financial
subsidies to private companies to expand broadband technology to unserved and
underserved parts of our state. Despite the significant need in the 17th
Senate District, no communities applied for funding during the last two
application cycles. Nearly $3 million went to projects in other parts of our
state while residents of the 17th Senate District are in the greatest need. I
wanted to know why.
Installation of broadband technology is dependent on private
telecommunications companies that base decisions on return on investment
(ROI). In other words, the companies that offer these services must believe
that they will receive a reasonable financial gain by installing
infrastructure that offers services.
Unfortunately, broadband installation for many of our rural communities does
not provide a positive ROI from a private-business perspective.
Telecommunications companies tell us that they can bury fiber down every road
for about $30,000 per mile, but there is absolutely no guarantee that a
majority of homes on a road will adopt the technology and it is highly
unlikely that those who do will be willing to cover the costs to install it.
I live on a dead end road in rural Spring Green that does not have fiber. I
pay $46 per month for wireless high speed internet. It meets my needs. I
would not be willing to pay more for fiber.
The meetings this month included Angie Dickison, the State Broadband Director
at the Public Service Commission (PSC), local economic development leaders,
business owners and citizens. I learned that the investment of state dollars
in broadband expansion needs to be studied and deployed in a more meaningful
way in order to reach the people who need it. I want to insure that taxpayers
are receiving strong ROI through this program and that it is meeting our
goals. I recently requested a Legislative Council Study Committee to review
the program and provide recommendations to insure that we are investing
wisely where the investments are most needed.
The current application process requires public-private partnerships, local
investment and a compelling case to receive grant funding. For example, a
telecommunications company must partner with a public entity such as a
township, to partially fund a specific project that meets the PSC’s criteria.
Unfortunately, many communities struggle to apply because they don’t know
what to ask, with whom to work and how to proceed. Throughout these meetings,
it became apparent that while we know communities need technological
investment, most people do not fully understand the technology, the costs and
the options available to them.
When most people think about “broadband,” they imagine fiber optic wires
connecting homes and businesses with a wider network. But that is not the
only way for high-speed transmissions to be distributed in Wisconsin.
Broadband technology can be offered in a variety of ways; buried fiber
cables, over power lines (BoPL), wireless (Wi-Fi, WiMax, 1X, 3G, 4G),
satellite, DOCSIS, DSL, and ISDN. Each type of broadband service has unique
capabilities, specific benefits and a myriad of downsides
Buried fiber cables offer fast, consistent connections; but they are
extremely expensive and require significant front-end investment by a telecommunications
company without the guarantee of participation. Wireless is another option;
but it has some topographical challenges, especially in the Driftless areas
of the state. Likewise, satellite options are widely available; but struggle
with dropped service during weather events.
Despite the confusing array of options for consumers, the need for high-speed
internet capability is necessary for businesses, education and personal
communications. Ready or not, most of us already communicate via the internet
in one way or another. Whether we’re sending an email, streaming video,
sharing files or shopping online, the internet is our connection to other
people, business opportunities, commerce, things we want to learn and
experience, and stuff we want to buy.
The lack of connectivity is impacting the stability of our rural communities.
Businesses need high-speed connections to do business. Individuals want – and
need – high-speed connections for both professional and personal activities.
As a result, young people are not returning to rural communities and
businesses are struggling to remain competitive in a world that is becoming
more technological every day.
The state Broadband Expansion program and the Federal CAF II funding are
small steps toward bringing broadband to our communities. As your State
Senator, I will continue to work with my colleagues, our communities and the
telecommunications companies to insure that taxpayer investment in technology
is meeting actual needs. If your community is in an unserved or underserved
area, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will work with you to make
connections and provide information.
Senator Howard Marklein & Representative Todd
Iowa County Judge Bill Dyke for Years of Judicial
Sen. Howard Marklein extends his
deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers to the Dyke family for their
loss. Iowa County Judge Bill Dyke passed away on Thursday, March 10,
2016. Sen. Marklein is honored to have known him and appreciated all of his counsel
and leadership over the years. Judge Dyke will be greatly missed.
Last week, Friday, March 4, 2016,
Sen. Howard Marklein and State Representative Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville)
presented a legislative citation to Iowa County Judge William (Bill) Dyke for
years of judicial service.
“Iowa County has been very fortunate to have a judge with such extensive knowledge
and experience as Judge Dyke. He has been a public servant for many years and
we thank him for his service to Iowa County and the people of Wisconsin,”
“I’ve known Bill Dyke since he came to Iowa County and he has not only been a
good friend, but a great Judge for Iowa County. It is a special honor, to
recognize such a great man for his service to not only Iowa County but the State
of Wisconsin,” Novak continued.
Judge Dyke served Iowa County for 19 years as a circuit court judge. Judge
Dyke also served two-terms as Mayor of the City of Madison from 1969-1973.
Dyke was first appointed Iowa County Circuit Court Judge in 1996, and has
also been elected to serve as the Chief Judge of the 7th Judicial District,
which encompasses Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe,
Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Trempealeau, and Vernon Counties.
Judge Dyke was also elected Chief of the Chief Judges and awarded the 2015
Lifetime Jurist Achievement Award from the Bench Bar Committee of the State
Bar Association for demonstrating outstanding, long-term judicial service as
a sitting judge.
Some of Judge Dyke’s accomplishments include adding mediation as part of the
home foreclosure process in Iowa County during the 2008 economic crisis and
founding Iowa County’s Teen Court program, which is now the second oldest in
the state. Both programs now serve as models for programs in other counties
around the state.
Judge Dyke announced last year that he would not be running for another term.
Wisconsin State Riverway Draft Master Plan
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently released a
draft master plan for the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (LWSR) and Tower
Hill State Park. The LWSR follows the Wisconsin River from Prairie du
Sac to the Mississippi.
The draft plan is available for public review and the DNR will hold two
open house public meetings to receive comments and input related to the
plan. You may also submit input in writing via the
public comment form found on the LWSR website.
The open houses are scheduled for:
Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Tuffley Community Center
104 Oak Street
Thursday, March 31, 2016, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The River Arts Center
105 9th Street
Prairie du Sac, WI
To review the draft plan and to learn more about the LWSR, please visit
website for more information.
In The 17th Senate District
legislators joined Jim Olson to celebrate his retirement from Schmitt
Woodland Hills in Richland Center. Congratulations to Jim and thank you
for your many years of service for the residents of Richland Center. Pictured
left to right: Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby), Jim Olson, Rep. Ed Brooks
(R-Reedsburg), Sen. Howard Marklein.
Marklein was invited to visit the college farm and to speak with students and
local Farm Bureau members at the UW-Platteville Brag About Ag event on
Thursday, March 10, 2016.
Marklein joined Cuba City Schools Superintendent Roger Kordus and Janet
Loeffelholz, Director of Food Service, for School Breakfast Week on Friday,
March 11th. Janet put Sen. Marklein to work, handing out raffle tickets
has been recognized as the School Nutrition Association's (SNA) 2015 Director
of the Year! Congratulations!
Marklein welcomed a group from Black Hawk Middle School on Wednesday, March
Marklein (far left) wore his red and black tie for the Warriors!
Sen. Marklein spoke to the
Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association Board meeting on Wednesday,
March 9, 2016 and shared his recent work on the Broadband Expansion Grant