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RAMS Director Steve Giorgi talks with Governor candidate Erin Murphy about the difficulties of getting broadband access to areas of the Range during a listening session Wednesday morning in Virginia.

IRON RANGE — Three Iron Rangers were among 14 people named to a broadband task force by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan this week.

Steve Giorgi of Mountain Iron, Jim Weikum of Biwabik and Bernadine Joselyn of Grand Rapids were appointed to the group, which will “forward policies” to expand high-speed broadband to Minnesotans, according to a press release announcing the task force.

Expanding broadband access in Greater Minnesota was among the top campaign priorities of the Walz-Flanagan ticket in 2018. In May, the governor signed a bill putting $40 million toward a broadband grant program over the next biennium.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve on Governor Walz’s Broadband Task Force,” Giorgi said over email Friday. “As the director for RAMS, our organization has been advocating and lobbying for increased funding from the State for rural broadband expansion and I have been a very active participant in local broadband community activities. I truly believe that broadband is the highway to economic diversity in our region.”

He added he looked forward to working with Weikum and Joselyn to promote the RAMS motto of “One Range — One Voice” to help the region.

The Range representatives will be joined by: Tewodros Bekele of Lake Elmo, Nolan Cauthen of Crystal, Dale Cook of Minneapolis, Steve Fenske of Buffalo, Shannon Heim of Minneapolis, Marc Johnson of Mora, Brian Krambeer of Rushford, Micah Myers of Watkins, Theresa Sunde of Waseca, Paul Weirtz of Bayport and David Wolf of Brandon.

Their terms begin Monday and end April 2, 2023.

“I am honored to have been appointed by Governor Walz to this task force. It will be my privilege to articulate the critical role that Minnesota's libraries play in ensuring that broadband access is available in their communities for all citizens,” said Weikum, the mayor of Biwabik and executive director of the Arrowhead Library System, said in an email. “As a local elected official, I will also strive to bring forth the interests of cities across Greater Minnesota and their desire for affordable broadband access in all corners of Minnesota.

Leah Ryan contributed to this report.

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