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4/12/2018 Broadband project moves ahead, one step at a time
Charles Bogle, president of Custer County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) sat down with the Tribune Tuesday to discuss the next steps in the long process of expanding broadband capabilities in Custer County. Now that the county received word that we have been approved for the $1,000,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), Bogle stated that the CCEDC is working with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) on the second level of their application for another $1,000,000 grant. “We anticipate having that decision sometime in June.” Bogle continued that they also received a small grant of $10,000 from El Pomar. “We will be soliciting for funds similar to what we did with Ride the Rockies for $10,000 to match the grant from El Pomar. We are also working on some “in kind” donations which will satisfy the DOLA requirement for matching funds through local contributions.” Bogle stated that they are locating people in the community that are interested in being a part of the team to help in their efforts. “We are taking resumes and talking with those folks and seeing how they might fit into the team.” The CCEDC anticipates that they will have the project completed by the end of 2019. “Weather permitting, as long as we don’t have a really harsh winter, construction wouldn’t be hampered. The devil is in the details.” One of the first things after working on contracts will be getting agreements with landowners about the placement of the towers. Bogle stated that the CCEDC is working on locating a general contractor that can handle the various specialties that they need, but also the administrative aspects of the project. “The CCEDC will act as the liaison between the subcontractor and the county.” The CCEDC will be having informational meetings with the public to explain the process moving forward and the timeline, at a time to be announced later. There will be another briefing for the Board of County Commissioners to attend which will be held in Denver with the EDA at a date “to be determined”. “Having all three commissioners at the DOLA presentation sent a strong message of support.” Bogle stated he was told that if approved for the EDA grant, it may be the first approval from the EDA for broadband in the state. At a previous Action 22 meeting, it was stated that they weren’t aware of any previous funding for broadband. “More and more, the federal organizations are getting funding.” This will also help when bigger funding is needed for fiber. “We believe going forward we are in a good position after the approval of the DOLA grant.” The CCEDC will have the grant submittal to the EDA by tomorrow and a date will be set for the review by EDA. “We are progressing on schedule and at a good pace.” Bogle stated that the CCEDC has received contact from many individuals in the community and surrounding area that have heard about the endeavor and want to assist. The CCEDC has been contacted by at least 16 people that depend on broadband for their livelihood. Bogle encourages everyone to put the word out there and encourage people to contact the CCEDC to let them know of their needs. “This will help those individuals that live off the I-25 corridor to leave. It will be good for all of us.” The CCEDC also encourages those individuals that would also like to help in any of their other initiatives such as affordable housing and supporting businesses. “We know we have a wealth of knowledge in the Valley that can help others. Many great organizations can use lots of help.” Bogle stated they have gotten great support from the two towns and the county, as well as citizens, and the CCEDC is very grateful. “We’ve been working on this for six years. The contacts we’ve cultivated and the visibility we’ve gotten is feeding the current successes.” The CCEDC will be holding their monthly meeting this month on Thursday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. in the Chamber building. The public is invited to all meetings. Those individuals that are interested in helping out with broadband or any of their other initiatives can contact the CCEDC. Stay tuned for further information and updates as they are available. – Tracy Ballard