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By Sterling McGinn

 The Eastern Upper Peninsula Connect Collaborative (EUPCC), an item which has been on many local government and school board agendas, was discussed at the September meeting of the Newberry Village Council.

The meeting was held at the Water and Light building at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21.

The EUPCC is an initiative of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (EUP ISD) to offer fiber optic cable internet to all residences within the EUP ISD district. To do so, school and village organizations have been asked to commit a portion of their budget to the collaboration. The money will be used to lay cable to every home in the EUPISD.

“The infrastructure committee met and reviewed the information, and suggested that the village not participate in the EUPCC,” said Trustee Darrell Schummer. “The reason is that in the village we have three companies that we can get internet through.”

Village President Catherine Freese said every resident in the village has internet access.

After discussion, the council voted to not support EUPCC at this time. Trustee Dan Hardenbrook cast the sole vote against the motion to not support the EUPCC.

The hot topic of water rates was briefly discussed by Village Manager Allison Watkins. She reported that the Great Lakes Partnership Rural Community Assistance Program tested water meters, and found that many resident’s meters are very accurate, specifically meters that are 30 years old.

“All of the documentation and research states that you should be replacing your water meters after 7 to 10 years,” explained Watkins. “What they found with the homes that they tested was that the meters were keeping up like they should.”

She also stated that the village can have more confidence in the meter reads that have been taken in the last several years, and that they are closer to being accurate.

The meter tests were the final step in the study, and a draft to show possible water rates will be finalized for the study group to review. Two separate entities have performed water studies for the Village of Newberry.

“I repeat it to anyone that will listen—rates will not go down—we cannot reduce our water rate charges,” Watkins said. “If folks are anticipating that, we just cannot afford it with the bonds that we have.”

The board also heard a proposal for USDA funding application assistance.  The grant funding would be used for the lead water system replacement. The board heard information about the application from Matt Treado of the UPEA Engineers.

Other business that evening included reports from village committees and officers, and the payment of village bills totaling $73,376.14, and Water and Light bills in the amount of $96,068.79.