Union Wireless plans new phone tower

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, an action to authorize Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association to call back existing pollution control bonds and issue new ones. The company is concerned it could default on the existing bonds, worth $46.8 million, because of the financial climate.

Tri-State originally received tax-exempt bonds through Moffat County in the late 1970s, when the Craig power plant was being built, through Ambac Financial Group.

However, Ambac was heavily affected by the 2008 investment crisis.

Because of the company's involvement in subprime lending, it lost its AAA credit rating early last year. Since then, Tri-State's interest payments on its pollution control bonds have increased from 1 percent to 10 percent.

Tri-State officials will come back to the county at a later date with solicited bids from different financial institutions interested in providing new bonds.

• Approved, 3-0, contracts with attorneys Tammy Stewart, of Steamboat Springs, and Maxine LaBarre-Krostue, of Hot Sulphur Springs, to work for Moffat County Social Services at the agency's discretion.

Stewart will be paid $110 an hour for both work and travel time. LaBarre-Krostue will charge $75 an hour for work and $35 an hour for travel.

Both attorneys also will be signed to a child support enforcement services contract, which a Social Services official said would be about five hours and two trips to Craig for a year. The contracted women will be paid their normal rate for work in that regard,

• Approved, 3-0, an application to the state to lease land for a limestone mine. Commissioner Tom Gray said the county recently learned mixing limestone with gravel makes a better and cheaper road base than gravel alone.

• Approved, 3-0, a resolution appointing the following residents to the following boards:

- 14th Judicial District Community Corrections Board: Al Shepherd, voting member, incumbent

- Fair Board: Audrey Anna Charchalis, voting member

- Hamilton Community Board: Phyllis Myers, voting member, incumbent; Marjorie Forbes, voting member, incumbent; Debra Wellman, voting member; Robin Hamill, alternate

- Health Insurance Board: Jennifer Riley, voting member, incumbent; Rick Holford, voting member, incumbent; Linda DeRose, voting member, incumbent; Dan Davidson, voting member; Pat Mosbey, alternate

- Housing Authority: Beth Gilchrist, voting member, incumbent

- Land Use Board: Dave Watson, voting member, incumbent; Tom Deakins, voting member, incumbent; Bob Grubb, voting member, incumbent; Steve Hinkemeyer, voting member, incumbent; Doug Wellman, alternate, incumbent; Jean Stetson, alternate, incumbent; Melissa George, alternate, incumbent; T. Wright Dickinson, alternate, incumbent

- Library Board: Cathy Gush, Craig representative, incumbent; Kathey Ogle, Maybell representative, incumbent

- Maybell Community Center Board: Ron Stoffle, voting member, incumbent

- Moffat County Tourism Association Board: Tammie Thompson-Booker, voting member, incumbent; Cindy Looper, voting member, incumbent; Gina Robison, voting member; Elisa Hayes, alternate

- Museum Board: Ina Faye Mack, voting member, incumbent; Perry Van Dorn, voting member, incumbent; Dorcas Albaugh, voting member, incumbent; Barbara Baker, voting member, incumbent; Lois Wymore, voting member; Glenda Cooper, alternate

- Planning Board: Brent Nations, voting member, incumbent; Jade Wilhite, voting member; Charles Locke, voting member; Sheila Brennise, alternate, incumbent

Digital cell phone users may soon enjoy enhanced reception between Craig and Hayden thanks to Union Wireless.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission approved a conditional use permit for the cellular telephone company to install a new 80-foot phone tower east of Craig.

Brian Woody, Union Wireless director of engineering, said the tower is one step toward the impossible goal of full cell coverage throughout Northwest Colorado.

"That's a little unrealistic, but it's the target we're shooting for," he said. "I could keep on building (towers) for the next 20 years and still not get to where I want (our service) to be."

The new tower falls in line with the company's plans to focus on where the most people live, work and travel.

"But it won't just be the highway where service improves," Woody said. "It's going to be all the out-lying areas around there off the highway, too."

Union plans to keep building new towers throughout the area to increase reception and capacity, for all those text messages and other multimedia signals flying through the air.

The east tower should be operational within a few months, Woody said, adding Union plans to build a new tower inside Craig at a later date to improve service across town.

Digital signals require more tower infrastructure than older analog transmission, he said, which is part of the reason infrastructure needs to catch up with rising demand in rural America.

The problem is compounded in places such as Moffat County where rock hills prevent signals from moving around unhindered.

"In rural areas, it's getting to the point that people expect the service to be the same as it is in urban cities," Woody said. "In my plans, I see lots of new towers and a real commitment from us to make sure that service gets to where it needs to be. That's one of the things we're committed to."

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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