The town of Collbran may be more than 100 years old, but they’re trying to adapt to changing times especially through the worst pandemic in a century. Town Manager, Melonie Matarazzo says, “A lot of the world has changed, and so, you’ve got a lot of people working from home. It’s very difficult in the valley right now. So, we’re looking at an economy boost.”
But, it’s going to take partnerships to bring broadband to the valley. Matarazzo says the city of Collbran has partnered with the hospital district, the school district, the job corps, Vega State Park, Powderhorn, and Mesa County for essential infrastructure that’s needed more than ever. “The students at the school need this. When they were sent home for remote learning a lot of them actually sat down on Main Street next to the library to be able to get adequate service,” said Matarazzo.
Rural communities in Colorado like the city of Collbran in the Plateau Valley are seeking a bigger boost to broadband. But, it’s not to serve a want, it’s to serve a need for faster internet speed. The city has already secured grant dollars, but the best way in boosting the signal is getting a boost in funds. “We just received a $300,000 grant from the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District, and a dedication if you will, from Mesa County for $1 million towards it.”
There is currently no estimate on how much funding the Plateau Valley will need to build the broadband infrastructure to service valley residents. Collbran is currently using a feasibility study, and the possible passage of the president’s billion dollar infrastructure bill won’t hurt, but might help, a lot. Matarazzo says, “We are right now figuring out the best routes to get fiber to the valley. So, the next stages will be construction, and we hope to be under construction next summer.”
The U.S. Senate approved a $1 trillion infrastructure bill at the beginning of October to rebuild the nation’s roads and boost broadband, but the legislation must now pass the house while lawmakers debate over a possible billionaire tax to pay for it.