Club 20 goes to Denver, pushes for better Internet

DENVER — Several Club 20 members braved this week’s massive snowstorm and traveled over the Continental Divide to deliver a message today:

While folks on the Front Range are enjoying a recovering economy, many of the people they represent back home aren’t.

In their annual trip to the Colorado Capitol, about 70 members of the Western Slope advocacy organization want the state’s 100 lawmakers to know what’s on their minds.

“We’re looking at issues that will improve the economy across the entire state,” said Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Petersen. “We know they won’t listen if we’re not here talking to them about it. So, since we are here raising these concerns, we are optimistic they will listen and give us some consideration.”

At a press conference later today, Petersen and the Club 20 members will run down a list of their top 10 issues for 2014.

They range from a better transportation infrastructure to more capital construction projects to questions about Front Range intentions on Western Slope water.

One major issue that lawmakers, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, have already said would be addressed this year is improved, and in some cases brand new, broadband Internet services for rural areas.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Snowmass Village Democrat whose district includes Delta County, say that players on all sides of that issue, including CenturyLink and other Internet service providers, may soon be in agreement over a proposed broadband fund that ultimately could replace an existing $50 million fund designed to ensure basic phone service in hard-to-reach areas of the state.

Getting that done is Club 20’s top issue for the year, not just for personal needs, but for schools, health care and economic development, Petersen said.

“If we can at least get something started, then it gives us something to build on,” she said. “We can see some potential down the road for using this technology for everything. Will it be perfect? Probably not. But if we can start, it will be a start.”



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