GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – (KREX) Riverside Educational Center supports many District 51 students, but once COVID-19 arrived, the center found a lack of service within the community. “Internet service which is something we all take for granted is not equitable across our valley, part of this is infrastructure, broadband is a physical infrastructure and it doesn’t extend to the more rural areas of our very large county,” Kristen Lummis, Development Director of Riverside Educational Center said.
When COVID-19 hit, the need for basic services like internet only continued to grow. Students transitioned to remote learning and their education was by the broadband services offered. Now with students back in-person the need for stronger internet services remains. “The question this fall is to opt out of Senate Bill 152 which will in essence allow Mesa County to go after funding from the state, go after funding from the Federal government to fund middle level infrastructure in broadband,” Cody Davis, Mesa County Commissioner said.
Now with funding from the Federal government, and COVID-19 dollars, Mesa County has a big decision to make. “Most of the counties on the Western Slope have already opted out of Senate Bill 152, Mesa County remains one of the only counties on the Western Slope that has not opted out of Senate Bill 152,” Davis said.
Broadband services are well known for the fastest internet speed and the most connectivity. “It really is something critical not only for education but telehealth, business, economic development, its something we really need throughout mesa county,” Lummis said.
Something commissioner’s are striving for. “Eventually my goal, and my hope is to become a gig community. that means everybody is served with a gigabyte to their home or wherever they are at,” Davis said.