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REACH-3MC Project Updates

Broadband Stimulus Project completed in Menominee

By ABC 10

Article reprinted from ABC 10 web site

An Upper Peninsula city celebrated the completion of new $130 million dollar project Wednesday.

Ann Arbor-based Merit completed new segments of its Broadband Stimulus Project in Menominee.

The project, Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Healthcare - Merit's Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC), helps connect rural and underserved areas in Michigan with more than 2,200 miles of broadband infrastructure.

"When you look north of Mount Pleasant, there's no more public universities until you get to the U.P. and the infrastructure from Mount Pleasant north is terrible, so we needed this infrastructure," Merit's Vice President of Member Relations Elwood Downing said. "Also if you look there's no major interstates north of Flint-there's only I-75-so therefore building this infrastructure to provide service to the rest of the community is really important."

"So the analogy between the super information highway to the interstate system there's something to be said about that."

"It leverages technology, reduces cost," Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks said. "It will allow our county-not only in terms of government, schools-to reach out throughout the U.P. , but also out of the U.P. and in other areas where there's services and support that will make our area that much more connected to the outside world."

The new broadband allows Menominee, and other U.P. cities, to connect to broadband services at a lower cost and consolidates services.

"The community can now begin doing things regionally and share resources and build out the economic development here," Downing said. "It then expands them broader to be able to share services with other counties throughout the state. And a lot of counties are doing that, they really are."

"We're going to have improved productivity, efficiency at a lower cost. And that's good when it comes to government, because the tax payers are paying the bill and if we can make that bill smaller then we're doing our jobs right," Marks said.

Last Modified: 2013-11-21 12:48:09

Merit-orious Beginning

By Katie Perttunen, Your Daily Globe

Article reprinted from

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP- Merit Network Inc. and community partners in Gogebic County commemorated the completion and lighting of the fiber optic network's segment between Watersmeet and Ironwood on Tuesday.

In 2010, Merit received two federal stimulus awards for the Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Health Care-Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative to create more than 2,200 miles of open access advanced fiber optic infrastructure in rural and underserved areas in Michigan. This has been accomplished in three years, Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications, services and product development for Merit, said. The Gogebic County segment will provide access to key connection points in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Downing said $100 million federal and $30 million private investment have been put into the project. "The public/private partnership of this project is the most compelling aspect, and was the most compelling aspect to the federal government as well."

The project was recognized by the White House in 2012 as a "Champion of Change," and 2013 Computer World Foundation "Computer World Honors Laureate."

"It's a tremendous success, and it would not have been possible without many people and organizations," Downing said. The project will serve homes, businesses and community anchor institutions.

Merit has long had a vision of equal informational access for all, regardless of geography," Downing said.

One hundred and thirty-three community anchor institutions are involved, and 53 additional institutions will be connected.

Gogebic Community College President James Lorenson called REACH-3MC "a truly momentous project. We're very pleased and honored to be part of the project."

Walt Lessun, GCC librarian, said the college is just beginning to imagine what collaborations can be created, and the positive effects for students will include faster access to proprietary databases and cooperative interaction with classmates and others around the world.

Tom Ruppe, network support analyst for Gogebic Community Mental Health, said REACH-3MC has enabled GCMH to provide telepsychiatry for its consumers, who previously had to wait five to six weeks to see a psychiatrist on location. Consumers have also been able to videoconference with relatives down state. Staff at GCMH will save travel dollars by attending meetings via video, and GCMH will have lower cost, reliable, high speed access to critical applications, Ruppe said, including medical records stored down state, financial applications in Marquette, and regional applications.

"It used to take me three days to complete Windows updates," Ruppe said. "Now I can do it in an hour."

Juliane Giackino, Gogebic County Administrator, said staff at the courthouse run 60 types of software applications, with eight servers, and 100 work stations; so the increased bandwidth will be beneficial. Giackino also said travel costs will be lower for the county, with defendants from the lower peninsula now able to appear in court by video, and Gogebic County board members able to utilize the same technology for meetings.

Law enforcement also uses cloud-based data storage, Giackino said. "It wasn't an easy decision to migrate to Merit, but the bandwidth, cost and reliability are worth it."

"Imagine a world with no boundaries and no barriers," Ironwood Carnegie Library Director Elaine Erickson said, "with data at the speed of light. That world is now, thanks to Merit."

"Merit has given us the tools to ensure 21st century service for our patrons," Erickson said. "I felt as if I had won the lottery when I found out the library would be a hub for the project. ... It is limitless now what we can provide our residents."

Amy Berglund, Upper Peninsula regional representative for the office of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, said Levin was a huge proponent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, from which the federal funding for the project came. "It's really terrific to hear the examples of how this technology is impacting this community."

"It's only going to get better," Berglund said. "Sen. Levin will be so happy to hear what it's doing here and how this investment is really working."

Thom Hadfield, U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek's office staffer, said, "I specialize in technology issues, and get the daily calls from people in rural areas that don't have access to high speed internet. We are much closer to providing the last mile to businesses and homes." Hadfield presented Downing a certificate of appreciation from Benishek's office.

Last Modified: 2013-11-20 12:40:08

Two Great Events Celebrating REACH-3MC in the Western Upper Peninsula

By Gregory Monroe

Merit and project collaborators commemorate fiber-optic infrastructure for Gogebic and Menominee Communities

Merit Network will dedicate new fiber-optic infrastructure and celebrate the completion of significant segments of the REACH-3MC Broadband Stimulus Project next week with two great communities in the Western UP.

During media events in Ironwood and Menominee, Merit will announce significant milestones for the project and answer questions on how the community can take advantage of the new high-speed network. Joining Merit at each event are key project stake holders, who will reflect on the momentous occasion.

The event for the Gogebic Community will be held at Gogebic Community College on November 19 at 11:30 AM Central Time. The event for the Menominee Community will be held at Spies Public Library on November 20, also at 11:30 AM Central Time.

Join us! Details below.

Gogebic Community College - November 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM Central Time
Davis G. Lindquist Student Center
E-4946 Jackson Rd
Ironwood, MI 49938

Speakers to include:
James Lorenson, President, Gogebic Community College
Elwood Downing, Vice President, Member Relations, Communications, Services and Product Development, Merit Network
Tom Ruppe, Network Support Analyst, Gogebic Community Mental Health
Juliane Giackino, County Administrator, Gogebic County
Elaine Erickson, Director, Ironwood Carnegie Library
Amy Berglund, U. P. Regional Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Carl Levin
Jeremy Hosking, U. P. Regional Manager, Office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

Spies Public Library - November 20 at 11:30 AM Central Time
940 First Street
Menominee, MI 49858

Speakers to include:
Cheryl Hoffman, Director, Spies Public Library
Elwood Downing, Vice President, Member Relations, Communications, Services and Product Development, Merit Network
Kenny Marks, Menominee County Sheriff
Michael Cattani, Superintendent, Menominee Area Public Schools
The Honorable Ed McBroom, State Representative, Michigan's 108th District
Jeremy Hosking, U. P. Regional Manager, Office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Amy Berglund, U. P. Regional Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Carl Levin

Last Modified: 2013-11-15 14:49:07

REACH-3MC Project Update Archive

Find Updates
Map of the Lower and Upper Peninsulas showing the Merit fiber and the REACH-3MC fiber progress
Cheboygan Charlevoix Petoskey Traverse City Kalkaska Gaylord Hillman Beulah GraylingManistee Ludington Luther Houghton Lake Rose CityMio Clare Gladwin Tawas City Mt Pleasant Midland Bay City muskegonZeeland Benton Harbor Berrien Springs Three Rivers Coldwater Hillsdale Adrian Monroe Dowagiac Grand Rapids Howard City Big Rapids Cadillac Lake City Onaway St. Ignace Sault Ste. Marie Manistique Escanaba Powers Marinette Iron Mountain Watersmeet Ontonaga Crystal Falls Wakefield Houghton Ironwood Alpena Green Bay Ashland Superior Duluth Odanah Calumet Osceola County Allegan County Oceana County Antrim County Alcona Van Buren Arenac County REACH-3MC Map Key
REACH-3MC Milage Meters

You can also use Progress Report Archive to view past updates.

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