From selling hot dogs, baking pies and flipping pancakes to offering fine dining at progressive dinners in Grand Lake or the Fraser Valley and a summer social at Grand Lake Yacht Club, The Friends of the Grand County Library, Inc. was able to raise more than $ 43,000 in 2017 for the Grand County Library District. This money was used to fund programs for children and adults, plus enhance the circulation collection of books and DVDs.
As the organization enters its thirty-fourth year, the Directors of The Friends of the Grand County Library, Inc. extend a Grand Thank You to all county and nationwide supporters for a successful 2017. Donor generosity by participation in Friends activities has enabled the Friends to fulfill its mission to help support the Grand County Library branches by raising funds to enhance library programs and services, to encourage public support, use, and enjoyment of the libraries, and to foster literacy and learning.
New members are always welcome. Join us by going to www.friendsofgrandcountylibrary.org, or pick up a membership brochure at any of the five libraries (Juniper, Granby, Fraser Valley, Kremmling and Hot Sulphur Springs).
The Friends of the Grand County Library, Inc.
Marla J. Gall, Kelley Shockey, Merilyn Hunter,
Toni Wujek, Cathy Craig, Mary Jo Wright,
Melitta White, Debbe Knutson
Why Should MPE Increase Electric Rates for All Customers to Build Fiber-Optic Backbone for Local Internet Service?
I was stunned to see local newspaper articles on this subject last week (Feb 21-23). Just the week before, I turned in my petition to run for the Mountain Parks Electric (MPE) Board in District 5 (the area around Grand Lake) and indicated the main issue facing the cooperative “is taking unnecessary financial risk to offer broadband internet service. A backbone fiber optic network is not needed to provide electric service, so any venture to offer broadband internet service should have all costs paid by those users and not electric ratepayers.”
Based on the MPE press release and news articles, it is clear to me that this project is not needed to provide electric service, but rather to enable broadband internet service. So why should 100% of electric customers pay more to subsidize an optional service (broadband internet) for a small percent of members who may benefit possibly someday in the future? I do not care if the present board and general manager consider that “the backbone investment is not expected to have a significant impact on MPE’s electrical rates” – it is the wrong thing to do. It is going to be forced on all ratepayers, most of whom are middle income working families and small businesses struggling to make ends meet, not to mention those disabled/retired on fixed incomes and low-income families. I hate to say it, but this decision makes me think that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission should have jurisdiction over MPE’s rates.
I am fortunate to have broadband internet service provided by Comcast at my home for $50/month, the lowest cost I have found in my area. Recently I saw an ad for satellite broadband internet for $50/month with 5-times the speed required by a popular video streaming service and I would try that if not for Comcast’s availability. Does anyone really expect that this MPE project will enable a lower cost internet service to those underserved areas?
Something about the MPE story does not make sense to me. Where are the maps showing where this system will be installed? Where are actual cost facts and figures? How much is the rate increase? Who are the last-mile providers waiting to jump on the MPE middle mile system and what are the expected revenues from those providers? How much will they charge for broadband internet? MPE surveyed 400 members who agree that ‘low-cost, high-speed internet is “very important to the future of the local economy.”’ And yet MPE is not planning to offer that service and will have no control over the retail cost charged for such. What is the rest of the story? I have requested MPE provide me more details.
I encourage you to read a Denver Post story published January 21, 2018 titled “Rangely selling a new economy” where Rio Blanco County obtained grants and funding four or five years ago for a multimillion-dollar infrastructure upgrade that brought speedy internet to Rangely and Meeker. I was impressed to see that Rangely is one campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College, a great addition to any rural community. Yet they struggle with their local economy cycling with oil boom and bust. This shows me that broadband internet is not a magic solution to the future of any local economy.
I support broadband internet in our rural areas when done as a separately funded enterprise, or perhaps by Grand and Jackson counties using grant funds when available. MPE could hold off and seek grant funds to pay for this backbone system. MPE should stick with what they know how to do well, which is to provide electric service for all members safely, reliably, and at fair rates based on an independent cost of service study done by a qualified consultant.
Les Shankland, P.E.
Mayor, Board of Trustee, Staff , Editors, Developer:
WOW, 429 pages of Final Development Plan, Annexation Agreements, maps, technical reports, and 91 pages of District Service Plan all to grind through by March 6. The proposed public hearing and consideration of the Roam Annexation is expected to be on this agenda. The revised documents are not available yet. How can the Council, staff and public be able to completely review them? We all need more time to review the proposal.
The existing public documents need a lot to be cleaning up. Case in point, in the District Service Plan VI.C.2 “…the mill levy may be such amount as is necessary to pay the Debt service on such Debt, without limitation of rate.” I think this is a bad precedent. The town should take a look at the Town of Erie’s model service plan which has worked well. A lot of hard work still needs to be done to these documents.
In full transparency, last week, I met with Mr. Besse, one of Roam principals. It was a good meeting and a step in the right direction. He and I discussed our positions, and went over many details of the development. We have our differences of opinion. However, I believe the goal for Roam is to have a great successful development in Winter Park. He offered to meet with residents and address any concerns. I think this will be beneficial.
At the meeting Mr. Besse gave many assurances to me about the development that I think should be expressed in public and committed in the document. Such as, preservation of the wetlands, open, public access, and commitments to fund infrastructure. At the last meeting the consultant ask for “Certainty” during his presentation. Believe me, we all want certainty. So, why not put these assurances in the agreements? Reaching a fair, reasonable, and balanced agreement.
Council and Staff needs to report back to the public at the March 6 meeting with some actual numbers and clear benefits of this project. A public discussion of the proposals by the Council needs to take place at that meeting.