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Telecom co-ops support RDFC grants

Brian Udby (left), director, Polar Communications board, presents RDFC grant check to Lankin Rural Fire Department President Francis Praska.
Brian Udby (left), director, Polar Communications board, presents RDFC grant check to Lankin Rural Fire Department President Francis Praska.

Community services across North Dakota continue to benefit from the Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC). RDFC, owned by telecom cooperatives and electric cooperatives in North Dakota, aids in the finance of projects advancing infrastructure and quality of life services in communities.

Recently, RDFC offered grants of up to $2,000 for community-based projects. RDFC made these funds available in order that more people become aware of its larger loan program that funds community-based projects and nonprofit entities with low-interest loans.

Polar Communications, Park River, is one of the rural telecom cooperatives participating in RDFC. Jon McMillan, member of the Polar Communications board of directors, is also a member of the RDFC board of directors.

In this community grant program, RDFC recently awarded $1,000 to the Lankin Rural Fire Department, and $1,000 to Fordville Quick Response.

The Lankin Rural Fire Department has grown from one fire truck and tank wagon to two fire trucks, tanker, grass truck and rescue unit. The department provides backup assistance to other fire departments in the area. The RDFC grant funds will be used to help pay for a new pickup for fighting grass fires and smaller fires.

The Fordville Quick Response is affiliated with the Park River Ambulance Service, which is an all-volunteer service that operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They assist in mutual aid with Valley Ambulance in Grafton, and also work with several quick response units within the coverage area, which includes Fordville. The RDFC grant funds will be used to upgrade training equipment for quick response personnel.

NDATC active at legislative session

The North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives (NDATC) is actively engaged in the work of the current session of the North Dakota Legislature. David Crothers, NDATC general manager and registered lobbyist, indicates he and the NDATC legislative committee are studying bills as introduced, and providing testimony and information to legislators on bills of particular importance to the association.

Members of the Association’s Legislative Committee include: Derrick Bulawa, BEK Communications; Paul Schuetzler, Consolidated Telcom; Keith Larson, Dakota Central; Ralph Neu, Dickey Rural; Tyler Kilde, MLGC; Dean Rustad, NCC; Karl Blake, Polar Communications; Dave Gauslow, Red River; Barb Steinmetz, Reservation Telephone; Jim Newman, SRT; and Troy Schilling, Matt Erhardt, Jr., West River.

Among bills NDATC is monitoring closely, are:

• House Bill 1026, providing for changes to North Dakota One-Call statutes, which regulate the protection of underground facilities from excavation; the House of Representatives passed this bill, supported by NDATC.

• House Bill 1046, which extends the 5 percent sales tax exemption for the improvement and build-out of telecommunications infrastructure beyond its June 30, 2017, expiration date; the House Finance and Taxation Committee did recommend a “Do Not Pass” on this bill, and NDATC, which favors HB 1046, continues its work with members of the committee, communicating the association’s position that the sales tax exemption should be continued.