Mayor wants town ready for a high-tech tomorrow


— As members of the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council work on a project to improve telecommunication services in the Yampa Valley, Hayden Mayor Chuck Grobe wants the town to be prepared.

Members of the economic development council are negotiating a contract with a telecommunication company, NC Telecom, to expand telecommunication services in the Western Slope.

The contract the two groups are negotiating is for work known as the "Beanpole Project."

The project is geared to provide public buildings and private businesses in and around Steamboat Springs access to state-of-the-art telecommunications, including high-speed Internet, at an affordable price.

The economic development council and NC Telecom are working to finalize a contract for work that will initially link local government offices, libraries, schools, hospitals and health agencies.

These entities would then be connected to the state's multi-network fiber-optic backbone.

The project will be a benefit to Hayden, said Winnie DelliQuadri, who is the project manager and grant analyst for Steamboat Springs.

"The biggest benefit for Hayden is there will be infrastructure put in Hayden that does not exist now," she said. "This will provide residents with a wider range of services that are not available now."

NC Telecom won the right to provide connections to the multi-use network, which is expected to be done by 2002, for public entities in the area.

The economic development council picked the company over AT&T Broadband and Qwest in October.

The city of Steamboat Springs is acting as the administrative arm for the council and is negotiating the contract, which should be finalized in March, she said.

The contract will determine how NC Telecom will connect the public buildings to the fiber-optic backbone the state Legislature approved to bury in rural areas to service government agencies.

The construction of the fiber-optic backbone will start in Meeker and then proceed through Craig, Steamboat Springs and Hayden, she said.

Rangely also will be served.

Once infrastructure is in place for libraries, health centers and schools, which will be subsidized by state grants, NC Telecom will be able to offer the same services to the private sector.

This will be a benefit to Hayden businesses and residents because NC Telecom will be able to compete with Qwest regarding telecommunication services, she said.

"This gives options for telephone service and Internet access," she said. "Hopefully with competition, this will drive down prices in the long run."

Grobe wants the town to be prepared for the fruits of the project.

"Anytime technology comes in you have to take advantage of it," Grobe said. "If you don't, it can go right by you."

Along with lower telecommunication prices, Grobe is optimistic that having access to better telecommunication services will make Hayden and other rural areas a potential home for companies that depend on the technology.

That means more jobs and more money coming into the region.

"This project is opening up a new area that will maybe attract new businesses," he said.

The economic development council selected NC Telecom over the other companies because the council believed it could provide services that would be affordable for school districts and small businesses, DelliQuadri said.

"We needed a vendor who could provide affordable prices to large and small entities," she said. "The council felt NC Telecom could do that."

The Yampa Valley Economic Development Council was formed in 1990.

It was created through an agreement between Routt and Moffat counties and Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig.

The council has coordinated telecommunication projects in northwest Colorado since 1992.


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