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Cable agreement finally resolved

After more than a year of negotiating, New Richmond and its cable provider are finally tuned into the same channel.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a 15-year cable franchise agreement with Rapid Cable.

The agreement marked the end of a series of problems created when Rapid purchased the local cable franchise two years ago.

Since the change in ownership, cable customers have complained about the lack of service and the quality of the signal provided by Rapid. The city has also fielded numerous complaints about unfinished work on buried cable wire and other issues.

According to City Clerk Joe Bjelland, city officials have had little response from the company since the complaints began.

That was until Rapid hired new regional general manager, Paul Broseman. The new company spokesperson attended Monday's meeting wearing jeans, spouting his no-nonsense attitude and promising to help repair the image of the cable provider.

"Our job is real simple," he told the council. "Fix things. I'm the Harry Truman of the cable company -- the buck stops here."

One of Broseman's first tasks was to sign the franchise agreement proposed by the city. With a few minor changes in language, Broseman agreed to meet all of the city's demands.

Among the items included in the agreement are live telecast feeds to city hall, the school board meeting room, football stadium and hockey arena. Local officials hope to broadcast meetings and games live in the future, thanks to the technology.

Rapid pledged to also work to repair bridges with the New Richmond cable access channel, which has suffered serious issues since the change in ownership.

"We're going to do our very best to give New Richmond what it needs as far as cable service," Broseman said.

Broseman added, however, that he seeks patience from the community as the company works to implement its plan.

"We can't undo a year's worth of issues in 30 days," he said.

Bjelland said he was relieved the franchise agreement issue was finally behind the city.

"Paul has been great to work with," he told the council. "He's pretty much taken care of most of the issues we've had."

In other business, the council agreed to accept a land donation from Tom Doar. The property will be used to expand the city's wastewater treatment plant.

In exchange for the donation, the city will agree to install a "passive park" near the treatment facility. The park will include trails, trees, native grasses and shelters.

"I think it's a good deal," said City Administrator Dennis Horner. "The land is worth more than the money we'll put into the park."