Note from yesterday’s Washington Post: Google Fiber says it's in talks with Oklahoma City, Okla., and Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla., in what could lead to the next round of expansions for Fiber.

Google Fiber is not in talks with local governments in Renville and Sibley counties, Minnesota. Nor is it ever likely to be. A visit to Winthrop yesterday revealed a harvest well underway in south central Minnesota, horizontal rain, the return of wind chill, and tangible signs of progress by the RS Fiber Cooperative.

The RS Fiber Cooperative includes 10 cities and 17 townships that voted to join the project. They formed a joint powers agreement to sell a bond and make an economic development loan to the cooperative. The cooperative will make the bond payments on behalf of the cities and townships. A private entity will operate the network.

Groundbreaking took place July 8. ‘Beta’ customers are taking service. Plans call for fiber to be extended to most of the cities within the project footprint by the end of the year. Wireless service will cover the rural areas until the fiber system is fully built out, which is projected to happen in 2018.

The fiber is going in underground but there is no missing the RS Fiber building in downtown Winthrop. (Winthrop is an MMUA member and operates a municipal electric utility.)

‘One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain’ goes the Proverb, and that was certainly the case here. A new drug store failed a few years ago but the brick building was eventually acquired by the cooperative and is now being re-fitted and will serve multiple purposes.  (There is another RS Fiber building in Gaylord, the Sibley County seat.)

A lot of people stepped up locally to make the project happen, when it became apparent that nobody was going to come in and provide the necessary service. That self-sufficient spirit was a common factor in the creation of many municipal electric utilities, and one good reason that public power supports the creation of local broadband networks.