Beanpole decision delayed

Resident requests more time for contract review

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Moffat County commissioners Tuesday held off signing a deal with NC Telecom for telecommunication services fully funded under a three-year-old state grant.

Commissioners -- who met Tuesday afternoon with staff and a representative of the Meeker company for one telecommunications agenda item -- heeded a request from audience member Lolly Hathhorn, who asked for time to review the deal and for public comment.

Hathhorn, saying she had learned of the meeting "this morning," was the lone non-staff attendee at Tuesday's meeting.

"We're willing to sit and listen," said Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos.

The contract will again come up at Tuesday's commissioners meeting.

If and when it is signed by the county and delivered by NC Telecom, the contract specifies 15 county-run entities to receive various high-speed Internet services under the state's $1.37 million Beanpole telecommunications project.

The grant would pay installation costs and monthly charges for access at each location for three years, after which the county could opt to discontinue the service.

It would be Moffat County's first substantial wave of services promised under the Beanpole project, which is so far paying for a video arraignment link between county courtrooms and the Moffat County Jail. That service became operational in January.

The county is one of several entities waiting for technologies under a master services agreement signed by NC Telecom with the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council last August.

NC Telecom was awarded a $775,000 deal from the Beanpole grant to connect public entities in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties to Colorado's multi-use network -- a venture between the state and Qwest intended to bring high-speed Internet services to each county seat.

Connections in Moffat County were to be made by Dec. 9, according to NC Telecom's master plan with the YVEDC.

Rick Heming, the company's operations manager, has pointed to Qwest in the delays for service. He said Tuesday that the state's multi-use use network has only recently become usable locally.

Heming said the services discussed Tuesday would be available at some point beyond "seven to 10 days" after the contract is executed with the county.

Individual contracts with each entity expecting services must be completed by June 30 for those services to be paid under the Beanpole grant, officials said Tuesday.

Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Visiting Nurse Association, The Memorial Hospital, Moffat County schools and the city of Craig are all listed to get services, according to YVEDC's deal from August.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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