Group solicits bids for telecommunications proposal |

Group solicits bids for telecommunications proposal

Christina M. Currie

With days to go before funding is official approved, the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council and Rio Blanco County are soliciting proposals from telecommunication consultants to develop a Community Infrastructure Network Implementation Plan for Northwest Colorado.

Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties and the towns within have partnered in applying for a $30,000 state “beanpole” grant to develop a plan to network rural communities to a fiber optic backbone soon to be constructed through Northwest Colorado.

Seeing a need for improved rural telecommunications, the Colorado Legislature appropriated $5 million to help communities pay for telecommunications service. Of that money, $300,000 was set aside for technical assistance grants funds for community infrastructure networking plans. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is in charge of administering the grant program. The grant application deadline was Oct. 22 and responses are anticipated Monday or Tuesday.

According to Jerry Smith, deputy director for DOLA, $30,000 was the suggested maximum amount for grant requests. At that cap, only 10 grants can be given statewide, but Smith said if more requests were submitted, there is funding possible from other resources. Smith said some requests were for less than the $30,000 suggested maximum.

Ten grant applications were received.

Smith believes the Northwest Colorado group has put a proposal together that stands a high probability of being funded.

“The Routt, Rio Blanco, Moffat counties project stands a real good chance,” said Smith.

Recommendations for funding were made this week and the final decisions will be mailed out Monday, according to Smith.

The three-county project will cost $36,000, $30,000 of which is expected to be paid for through the grant. There is a $3,000 cash match expected and $3,000 of in-kind services have been pledged. Participants include Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, the cities of Steamboat Springs, Craig, Meeker, Rangely, Hayden and Oak Creek, the Yampa Valley Partners and the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council (YVEDC).

Getting a jump on the process, and showing optimism about getting the grant, the YVEDC has distributed a request for proposal from qualified telecommunications consultants to develop the plan.

According to Winnie DelliQuadri, grant analyst for the YVEDC, the money from the grant will give the group a fast start on developing an infrastructure plan that will make Northwest Colorado more attractive to future “beanpole” grants.

“We have to decide how we are going to connect everything to the state backbone,” said DelliQuadri. “This grant gives us the money to do that.”