Community , Business

Grayhorse broadband project moves forward

TULSA, Okla. — When it comes to facilitating broadband access, Osage Nation is helping Osage LLC get its feet back on the ground.      

At the Oct. 16 board of directors meeting for Osage LLC, Quality Assurance Officer Molly Franks advised the board that her office is working with the nation to expedite the work on federally grant-funded broadband projects for the Grayhorse and Bowring communities by purchasing the land for broadband towers. The tribe is also handling the mandatory cultural and environmental assessments for the fiber optic lines’ paths.

Upon completion, Osage LLC will own the broadband towers and will lease the land from the nation. The fiber optic cable route is currently being finalized for the Grayhorse project, while the land purchase negotiations are underway for the Bowring community.

“Without the team at Osage Nation, we wouldn’t be going anywhere,” Franks said.

However, the land purchase, the mandatory cultural and environmental assessments, the ownership of the towers and land leases are all dependent on an existing MOU that has yet to be amended, according to Dante B-G. Halleck, Managed Assets Director for the Osage Nation.

Meanwhile, Moss Adams’ audit of the company’s fiscal year 2018 financials is still ongoing as the auditing firm has requested additional documents. However, the time period under review is mostly prior to when the current board was seated and records from that period are still spotty.

“They are working on their own timeline and have made that clear,” board member Frank Freeman said. 

“This is still from when there were records missing. We just don’t have access to some of the documentation, so it’s been difficult.”

Although the audit is still outstanding, the board’s chairwoman praised the LLC staff for its efforts to keep the company moving forward and seeking out additional work. 

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” Chairwoman Kay Bills said. “I have to commend the fact that we have our little piggy bank and haven’t had to crack it. We’re paying the rent and we’re paying the vendors.”