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Electronic billboard discussion reignited in Newport

After the issue sat idle for several months, the Newport City Council is once again looking into electronic billboards.

Council member Tracy Rahm reintroduced the idea last week and said with budget deadlines looming for companies who have expressed interest in placing an electronic billboard in Newport, a decision is needed.

Rahm suggested the city "go to those companies that have expressed interested and see what they want to provide or what packages they offer so that we can evaluate them" before budgeting cycles end in the fall. He said that he recently spoke with several residents and the Newport Planning Commission, both of which expressed reservations when it comes to the location and aesthetics of an electronic billboard.

Still, Rahm wants to look into it.

"This intersection is one of the top 10 (centrally located) intersections in the Twin Cities," he said. "I think we should be cognizant of that and figure out what use it could be. We do have a lot of land that is appropriate."

The council gave Rahm the green light to speak with potential companies regarding the installation of an electronic billboard.

In an earlier proposal to the council, Rahm tentatively placed two electronic billboards at the Interstate 494 and Highway 61 interchange and at the corner of Ford Road and Hastings Avenue.

If installed, Rahm's proposal said the city could see an annual earning of $50,000 to as much as $200,000.