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Costs and assessments stall Grayhorse broadband project

TULSA, Okla. — Broadband is still coming to Grayhorse and Bowring.

It’s just moving at the speed of dial-up.

At the Osage LLC board of directors’ June 26 meeting, Corporate Quality Control Officer Molly Franks confirmed that the Grayhorse and Bowring broadband projects are still a go, even after multiple delays.

Among the hitches holding up the project is a belated agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Osage Minerals Council and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on right of way access along road construction projects and unreleased federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development to pay for the Bowring project.

Although the former has been remedied, the latter has not yet been fixed.

“This is a tech project, so it is not going to be cheap,” she said. “Or free.”

Additionally, before any cables can be laid for either project, land still has to be purchased. Franks said a closing date for Grayhorse is nigh, with that property estimated to cost about $31,000.

Once the property’s purchased, then environmental and cultural preservation assessments must be conducted on each site before construction starts.

“I’m not going to even put out for construction bids until the land is purchased and the environmental assessments are done,” she said. “We are not going to turn any dirt without the environmental assessment or cultural preservation assessment, but that environmental assessment is season-specific. We need to get moving.”

In other business, the board is preparing for another visit from auditors, as Moss Adams is scheduled to start reviewing the company’s books in July. Moss Adams is one of three auditing firms that have previously audited the company’s finances since 2017 as part of a rebuilding effort.

“I feel better about this one than the previous ones, so that’s progress,” Chairwoman Kay Bills said with a smile.

The meeting was also the first in-person session for Rick Perrier as a board member. A U.S. Air Force veteran and former member of the Osage Nation Veterans Memorial Commission, Perrier replaces Fairfax native Mark Goad. Goad was nominated for a second term to the board but was not confirmed before the Hun-Kah Session ended in April. In honor of his service, Bills presented Goad with a blanket on the last official day of his term in early June.