Commissioners updated on broadband project

By Niki Turner
niki@theheraldtimes.com
RBC I County commissioners heard from IT Director Blake Mobley about the broadband project prior to the regular board meeting Monday in Meeker. Mobley said he recently attended two conferences and said it was “extremely surprising how unusual and well-received our approach to broadband has been.”
Mobley said the mainline fiber conduit was completed in both towns three weeks ago, and there are “a little over 300 total customers.” That number is estimated to reach 750 by the end of the summer as more homes and businesses are hooked up to the fiber network.
Commissioner Si Woodruff asked how the order of connecting homes and businesses is being determined, and requested that the county’s IT department report back to the board at the May 22 meeting.
In the regular board meeting, commissioner chair Shawn Bolton requested a letter be composed rescinding the board’s previous support of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife bill that would have raised the cap on hunting and fishing licensing fees, among other revenue-increasing options. The commissioners had previously agreed to support the bill, which died in the Senate Finance Committee May 4 on a 3-2 vote.
“When this bill was in deliberation they (CPW) removed the part of the bill that said they couldn’t use those (additional) funds to purchase property,” Bolton said, adding, “The bill is dead in the water, but we want to send a message to the CPW.”
Road and Bridge Director Dave Morlan said endangered plant surveys requested by the BLM on roads maintained by the county that need repair or upgrades will cost the county more than $8,000. Two of the plants of concern are the Dudley Bluffs bladderpod and the Piceance twinpod, both of which are only found in Rio Blanco County.
In commissioner updates, Woodruff said he participated with the road and bridge crews in collecting snow and water samples along the White River and its tributaries that, “…will maybe tell us something about the algae.” The cause of last year’s algae bloom in the White River is still being investigated.
Woodruff also said he spoke with Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius about coming up with ways to help people with the high cost of asbestos abatement. Some homes in Rangely are falling into dangerous disrepair because the homeowners cannot afford repairs or remodeling due to asbestos abatement costs.
Jeff Rector said he attended the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado meeting. The keynote speaker was the director of the Colorado Department of Transportation who shared about the department’s budget woes.
“I think we’re going to see a gas/fuel tax increase in Colorado to help them,” Rector said.
Bolton said he would like to begin a series of public meetings about the future of legalized marijuana in Rio Blanco County.
“I’ve been approached by two or three different people about our pot moratorium,” Bolton said. “I think we need to start a series of public meetings on the future of pot in the county—not for municipalities, but the county. We have to get used to it. It’s in every town around us.”
Woodruff asked if the subject could be put to a vote of the people in November. County attorney Kent Borchard said that is a possibility.