Cortez and Montezuma County Agree to Fund Fiber Optic Project

2/6/2021
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City of Cortez to Introduce Budget Pay Plan to pay your utility bills, utility.billing@cityofcortez.com or 970-564-4012.
Cortez City Council approved a 30-day public comment period for the City of Cortez Draft Source Water Protection Plan, sourcewaterplan@cityofcortez.com.
Feb 20-26, Local Case Count: Montezuma County: 1702 cases, 13 deaths (+0), 7 (+0) among cases, Dolores 68 (+2) San Miguel 815 (+18), montezumacounty.org

When workers and students in rural Southwest Colorado were sent home during last spring's pandemic shutdown, the lack of broadband access hit home hard. And it may have prompted the City of Cortez and Montezuma County to jointly fund a $600,000 project to extend fiber optic cable south of town.

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The Cortez City Council

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and the Montezuma County Commissioners

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have agreed to jointly

fund a $600,000 project

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to extend fiber optic cable

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to the Southern part of the County.

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And that could open the area

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to more economic development.

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You're watching the Local News Network

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brought to you by TruWest auto of Cortez

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and Durango Party Rental

serving the Four Corners.

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I'm Wendy Graham settle.

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Construction will begin soon

on a fiber optic cable project

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that will extend access to broadband

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from Fifth Street on South Broadway

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to Road G and U.S highway 491

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where our Love's Truck Stop

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has been proposed for the

old M & M truck stop site

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on the Northeast corner.

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The City of Cortez and the

Montezuma County Commissioners

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have agreed to the first ever

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jointly funded broadband project

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to the tune of $300,000 each.

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Montezuma County, IT director Jim McCLean

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said shutdowns during the pandemic,

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brought into focus the need

to expand high speed internet

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beyond city limits.

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The pandemic is probably

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what really started getting people

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to pay attention to how

important broadband is.

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We've always known,

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but I don't I think it

was still an afterthought.

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I know for the County personally,

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when they sent everybody home,

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the first go around in March, April,

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we had 28 employees

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had virtually no internet at all

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which surprised me,

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so they couldn't even work remotely.

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So we were scrambling trying

to come up with something.

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And those that did have internet

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80% of them wasn't fast enough

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to be able to do anything with it anyway.

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We have to solve this problem

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and I truly I'm frustrated

like everybody else

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because we've been waiting

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for them to come solve this problem for us

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and they're not doing it.

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While the project ends at the intersection

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where Love's Travel Stop has been proposed

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at the old M & M Truck Stop,

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both McClain and Cortez General

Services manager, Rick Smith

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say it's just the first phase

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of a multi-jurisdictional project

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to take internet all the

way to the Cortez airport

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and the Ute mountain Ute Indian tribe.

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The fiber optic cable will

offer an open access network

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so that private providers

can lease bandwidth

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to offer service to nearby

residences and businesses.

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The two also anticipate that

the fiber optics extension

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will generate economic

development projects in the area.

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Love's is a family owned national chain

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of truck and travel stops

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that are built to accommodate dozens

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if not hundreds of tractor

trailers and regular travelers.

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I have to look at the Love's Truck Stop

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is kind of your Walmart situation.

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Whenever they build a Walmart

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things start popping up around Walmart.

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I really believe it because Love is big

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and I believe that once

they put that in the ground

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over there and they build it

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you're going to see other

things develop around that.

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And by doing what we're

doing with the broadband

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it's going to meet their needs

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because that's the first question,

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everybody asked it anymore,

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they don't ask if you have water

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or if you have electricity,

that's an assumption.

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Now they ask, do you have

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what kind of high speed

internet do you have?

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That's the number one question?

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So we have an opportunity

to open broadband up

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literally for the whole Southern part

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but the big picture is it also sets us up

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for a regional improvement

in economic development

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because of those other projects

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eventually we'll get to Cortez

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these will plug right in

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and then it opens up for all Region 9

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McClain and Smith anticipate

the fiber optic extension

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will be completed by June.

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For more information

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log on to the City of Cortez website

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or the Montezuma County website.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network.

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Be sure to stay on top of the news

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through Twitter, Instagram,

or your favorite podcast.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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