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Safe Online Shopping

Safe Online Shopping

‘Tis the season for excessive shopping and since many people will purchase their holiday gifts online, this is a good time to brush up on some internet safety tips. Here are a few reminders for protecting your personal and financial information while shopping online:

  • Don’t share your banking information while using free public Wi-Fi or public computers.
  • Only shop on secure sites that begin with “https” and/or display a padlock in your browser.
  • Verify the reputation of the online merchant. If you are unsure about a merchant do your research.
  • Make sure your computer and browser security features are installed and updated.
  • Confirm a working customer service phone number in case you have issues with the product.
  • Avoid shopping for a product based on unsolicited emails, texts or pop-up advertisements.
  • Be suspicious if you are shopping for a product and one site is offering unbelievably lower prices than any other site. They may be trying to collect personal information or sell knock-off products.
  • Read the fine print, terms, and conditions and return policy before finalizing any purchase.
  • Only use a credit card when shopping online, avoid any less conventional forms of payment like money orders.
  • Keep a record of your purchase on file in case you need to reference it in the future.
  • Regularly check your credit card statements to ensure all transactions are authorized by you.

If you are concerned about the safety and security of your information online, you always have the option to shop over the phone or in a store. To report online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center visit www.ic3.gov or call an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer specialist.

800-222-4444

www.aarpelderwatch.org

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

In recent years, we have dealt with major data breaches at hospitals, retail stores, and government offices. In September, we learned Equifax’s data was breached, potentially affecting millions of people. While these breaches are alarming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim of identity theft. It does mean that you should take precautionary measures to protect your identity.

The following are some steps to consider taking:

  • Review your annual credit report. Call 877-322- 8228 or visit annualcreditreport.com.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and lasts for 90 days. Contact one bureau only. www.Equifax.com (800-525- 6285) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (800-680- 7289)
  • Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call (866-447-7559) to learn more about the breach and if your information was affected.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your file. You will have to request to remove the freeze if you apply for credit. You must contact all three bureaus. Fee to freeze and lift applies. www.Equifax.com (800-349- 9960) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (888-909- 8872)
  • Monitor your credit card and bank statements.
  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or emails appearing to come from Equifax, the other credit bureaus or financial institutions.

If you have questions about any of these precautionary measures, don’t hesitate to contact an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer at 800-222-4444 option 2.

800-222- 4444
www.aarpelderwatch.org

Source: AARP Foundation

 

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Notice of Final Settlement and Certification of Completion was issued for the Delta construction. Final construction audit is underway for the City of Montrose. Both communities are “live” and Anchor activations continue.

Region 10 and FastTrack Communications continue to develop operations planning while the Operations and Maintenance contract is under legal review. It is anticipated that the contract will be executed in mid-November.

The EDA Equipment Request for Proposal (RFP) draft was approved by Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week. The proposal has been published on the Rocky Mountain Bid Network and the pre-bid conference was completed Monday, October 2. In conjunction with the publishing of the RFP, the Tri-State Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) agreement is slated to be on the Tri-State board’s docket for their November board meeting.

In Gunnison County, the 10G circuit from CenturyLink has been installed tested and turned up. Region 10 Network equipment has been installed on the Western State campus and the link is active. Provisioning for use at the university is underway and live traffic should be underway in the next two weeks. Construction estimates for the Carrier Neutral Location’s (CNL) in Gunnison and Crested Butte will be finalized on Tuesday, October 3 for consideration by the Local Technology Group. Anchor construction estimates are being finalized and will be issued prior to the next Local Technology Group meeting.

Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) continues to work on easement perfections in Delta and Montrose counties and is making great progress. We are currently involved in discussions for fiber access at CNL locations in Paonia, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, and Crawford in an effort to eliminate overbuilding existing assets and further developing the partnership. We continue to work on construction estimates for Montrose County to add anchor locations and determine how best to partner to deliver service to Olathe, working together with the county and DMEA.

Fiber access options for Ridgway and Ouray continue to be explored with Zayo, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), Tri-State, and DMEA. An engineering order has been submitted for a 10Gbps wave from Montrose to Ridgway. We fully expect to complete CNL locations in both communities this year.

Crested Butte Yoga Studio Gets a Boost from Region 10’s Loan Fund

Crested Butte Yoga Studio Gets a Boost from Region 10’s Loan Fund

Yoga for the Peaceful in downtown Crested Butte has offered yoga classes for residents and visitors alike for the past 10 years. In June, new owner Brittany Phelps opened a second yoga studio geared toward the local, full-time residents of CB South, Crested Butte’s bedroom community seven miles south of town.

Phelps sought to remodel a 600-square foot garage space to house her new yoga studio at 310 Elcho Avenue. She contacted Crested Butte Bank seeking a $10,000 business loan to do the remodel and purchase yoga mats and other props. As a new business, however, with no credit history and possessing few assets, she was unable to get a bank loan, she said.

Crested Butte Bank steered Phelps in the right direction when it encouraged her to contact Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning in Montrose.

Phelps met with Region 10 Business Loan Fund director Dan Scinto, who explained the process of obtaining a small business loan, looked over her business plan, and assessed whether she would be able to pay back the $10,000 loan.

“We were able to approve the loan,” Scinto said. “Region 10’s Loan Fund fills the gap that exists in the banking industry.”

Since 1972, Region 10’s Business Loan Fund has helped 250 local businesses and nonprofits with more than $9 million in loans.

“We like to leverage public and private dollars on projects that we work on,” Scinto said. “We typically work in partnership with banks on projects,” though sometimes, like in Phelps’ case the Loan Fund is the sole lender.

Within a few weeks of acquiring the loan, the remodel was completed, and Phelps was in business. CB South’s Yoga for the Peaceful grand opening took place June 6 – an event Scinto attended.

“The Loan Fund takes a vested interest in the business’s success,” Scinto said. “It’s a place to develop a business and technical relationship.”

Phelps has already hired five yoga instructors and plans to employ six additional teachers this fall.  The studio offers different styles of yoga, and 20 different classes, ranging from beginner level to intermediate. Phelps is also looking to become a teacher-training center; she already offers workshops in various specialties.

“Our slogan is ‘all types of yoga for all types of bodies,” Phelps said.

Phelps started repayment of the loan two months after she closed on it.

“It was very affordable,” she said. “Interest rates are half of what they would be at a large bank.”

Region 10’s assistance didn’t end there. Phelps has continued to consult Scinto and Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center about various issues, such as bookkeeping and marketing.

“Region 10 is such a strong asset and resource for me as a small business owner,” Phelps said.

It’s important to note that Region 10’s Business Loan Fund program provides ongoing technical assistance throughout the term of the loan, Scinto said.

Region 10 Business Loan Fund serves 18 local communities in San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Hinsdale, Gunnison and Delta counties.

For more information visit: www.region10.net/blf/. Scinto can be reached at (970) 765-3126, or email: dan@region10.net

To see a schedule of classes, or for more information about yoga in Crested Butte and CB South, visit www.yogaforthepeaceful.com.

How to Avoid Medicare Fraud

How to Avoid Medicare Fraud

Medicare Fall Open Enrollment is October 15 through December 7, 2017.  Use this opportunity to evaluate your Medicare options and compare plans. Decide whether you want to enroll in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan and compare Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D drug plans.

Be aware of enrollment fraud. If you find yourself in one of the following situations, remember that you have rights as a Medicare beneficiary:

  • Are you being pressured to join a plan? If you are feeling a lot of pressure to join a plan, remember that you have a right to choose how you receive Medicare coverage. You can choose between a Medicare Advantage Plan and Original Medicare, and you can enroll in any Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D plan that is offered in your area. You have the whole length of Fall Open Enrollment to make choices about your health coverage, and you will not receive extra benefits for enrolling early. If a plan representative is pressuring you, or if you just need more time to review your options, tell them that you will follow up with them later to make a decision. You can receive unbiased counseling about your plan options from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). To find and contact your SHIP, visit www.shiptacenter.org or call 877-839-2675.
  • Do you believe you might be receiving false information? Plans cannot falsely represent themselves to get you to enroll. Before making a final choice about your coverage, confirm all the information a plan has given you. For example, if a plan agent tells you that all of your providers are in-network, check with your providers to see if this is true. Whenever possible, rely on information from government websites ( a website that ends in .gov) and emails, seek unbiased counseling from your SHIP, and get information about the full range of plans available in your area by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. Additionally, remember that a plan cannot claim to be endorsed by Medicare or to represent Medicare, and cannot threaten you with the loss of your Medicare benefits if you do not enroll in their plan.
  • Is someone asking you for confidential/personal information? Plans do not need to, and should not ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank information just to provide you with information. Plans should not call you at home to ask for this information, and should not ask you to give it to them at educational events. With this information, a plan can enroll you without your consent. Plans also cannot call you and ask you for a payment over the phone, but rather they have to send a bill. Additionally, know that there will be new cards issued for Medicare beneficiaries starting in 2018, but you do not need to take action or pay anything to get your new card or retain your Medicare benefits. Be wary of situations where people ask for your Medicare information or some form of payment related to this card.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, protect your Medicare and Social Security information and remember that you have the right to make your own decisions about your Medicare coverage. If you believe a plan representative has violated Medicare’s marketing guidelines, or if you think you were enrolled in a plan without your permission, you can contact your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). You can find and contact your SMP by visiting www.smpresource.org or calling 877-808-2468.

-from MedicareRights.org

Region 10 issues broadband RFP

Region 10 issues broadband RFP

Region 10 LEAP is announcing a Request for Proposal to solicit proposals from qualified vendors who can provide the required network equipment to complete the Region 10 Middle Mile Network in Colorado. The network equipment will include layer 3 switches, routers, network monitoring equipment and software, and other related equipment. This is an equipment and installation bid.

This project will be partially funded with Federal Funds from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and therefore is subject to the Federal laws and regulations associated with that program.

Request for Proposal documents and details on the award process can be found on the Region 10 electronic bid site: www.bidnetdirect.com/colorado/Region 10leap; Region 10’s Broadband website: www.Region10.net/Broadband; or by emailing Chris Kennedy, Region 10 Broadband Project Director at chris@region10.net.

CLS Receives Donation from Quilters’ Guild

CLS Receives Donation from Quilters’ Guild

The Black Canyon Quilt Show & Sale was another huge success for the three area quilt guilds. This year Region 10 Community Living Services was chosen to benefit from the proceeds of the sale. Each spring Community Living Services and our community partners from throughout the region join forces to produce a regional Caregiver Summit. This is a great event that supports family and professional caregivers; however, it is costly to put together. The 2018 Caregiver Summit will be the best yet thanks to the hard work and dedication of our community quilters who collectively created over 500 handmade pieces for the sale to benefit our program. The Caregiver Summit is such an important event for our communities and knowing that this generous donation was made possible at the hands of our Montrose quilters make it even more special.

In addition to the donation, we were also invited to do a brief presentation at each of the 3 guilds which helped us get the word out about the programs we have for disabled and older adults. Making sure our community knows about these resources is so important; we want to make sure that those in need of support know where to get it.

THANK YOU to everyone who made the 2017 Black Canyon Quilt Show a success, we will make you proud with the 2018 Caregiver Summit.

Telluride Active Apparel Company Benefits from Region 10 Loan Program

Telluride Active Apparel Company Benefits from Region 10 Loan Program

Kelly and Will Watters were working as skiing and fly-fishing guides when they began searching for functional, yet stylish clothing that would be stretchy, breathable, and water-resistant, and also appropriate for wearing downtown to meet a client.

“We started out of a personal need,” said Kelly, who with her husband founded the active apparel company Western Rise in 2014. “We discovered a lot of clothes were not the style we were looking for. They were not something we’d wear every day. We were hunting for more classic, timeless clothing we could incorporate into our wardrobe.

“We wanted one set of apparel that would perform for all of those things; less is more.”

Looking to grow their company, the Watters turned to Region 10, a Montrose-based nonprofit that offers assistance for new and expanding businesses in six western Colorado counties. The Telluride-based company got a major boost in June after it received a loan from the Rural Business Loan Fund Statewide Collaboration through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“It’s a new funding source available; Region 10 was the first Loan Fund in the state to successfully disburse the funds,” said Region 10 Business Loan Fund director Dan Scinto, noting there are additional funds available for similar start-up projects.

The loans are geared toward businesses in underserved markets (the Western Slope, for example where there is less access to capital). The program also distributes loans based on the companies’ merits – “the people operating the business versus the proven cash-flow of the business,” Scinto said.

Will Waters is a third-generation fiber manufacturer who understands how to custom-design fabrics to be high performing.

“They have a true passion for the fibers and the process of materials that go into their products,” Scinto said.

Region 10 provided valuable business advice and helped them navigate the loan application process, Kelly said.

The loan they received allowed the Watters to grow their team, focus on reaching “higher sales goals,” and purchase inventory. Western Rise generally launches new collections seasonally, but is looking to move toward a monthly collection launch, Kelly said.

The company brought on three new employees this year, doubling its team members from three to six.

“We expect to add two more employees in spring of next year,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to grow our base office in Telluride. It’s been a great community for our business. Telluride is an awesome place to product test – if it holds up in Telluride, it will hold up anywhere.”

Region 10’s Business Loan Fund assists local businesses and non-profits located within Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties. The Business Loan Fund focuses on loans that help create or retain jobs, and/or establishes or expands needed businesses in the region.

Two Colorado Companies to Watch Based in Western Colorado

Two Colorado Companies to Watch Based in Western Colorado

 

Two Western Slope-based businesses were each named a 2017 Colorado Company to Watch – an award recognizing companies that have passed the start-up stage, are growing, and contributing to their local economies.

ShadeScapes in Hotchkiss, and Mayfly Outdoors in Montrose – were among the 50 companies honored this summer at the Colorado Companies to Watch ninth annual Awards Gala in Denver. More than 500 companies throughout the state were nominated.

Jo Edmondson, ShadeScapes founder and CEO, distributes high-quality shade products such as umbrellas and cabanas, for five different companies in Belgian, South Africa, Montreal, and Germany.

With a warehouse in Delta and an office and showroom in Hotchkiss, Edmondson employs 14 people – including two in Delta and 10 in Hotchkiss. ShadeScapes sells to contractors, landscape architects, dealers, designers, commercial businesses and private homeowners.

The Rural Economic Development Initiative awarded a $65,000 grant to Edmondson toward the purchase of a 1905 mercantile building in downtown Hotchkiss because of the company’s potential to revitalize a depressed part of Colorado. The building at 122 Bridge St. was purchased and renovated in 2015, and the company moved in March 2016.

Not only has Edmondson created jobs in the North Fork Valley – an area hurting from coal industry job losses – the showroom has “breathed some life into the community,” Edmondson said, by serving various nonprofit groups after hours. Delta County Memorial Hospital, Rotary Club of the North Fork Valley, the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce, and Kid’s Pasta Project have all used the building for events and/or meetings.

Nancy Murphy, director of the Small Business Development (Region 10) and West Central SBDC, Satellite Office in Montrose, nominated ShadeScapes for the award because of the “amazing” things the company is doing for the community.

“They’ve turned the building into a hip, urban style office that showcases their stunning shade structures in downtown Hotchkiss, which has added vibrancy to the community,” Murphy said.

Being named a Colorado Company to Watch is a big deal, Edmundson said.

“We’re definitely energized by it; we’re grateful for it. It will help get the word out about who we are – we’re a Colorado company, with beautiful products in a small town.  The award helps us to spread our wings.”

Each of the 50 winners is expected to host an event that publicizes their awards.

“We’ll do that in Hotchkiss (October 6) but we also want to tell our story around the state and so we are going to go on a tour,” Edmundson said. “We’re going to have pop-up showrooms in Aspen and Denver.”

The Western Slope’s other Colorado Company to Watch – Mayflower Outdoors – is an outdoor product investment company that focuses on businesses that are under-managed, or under funded, said Mayfly president David Dragoo.

“We take over, operate them and turn them around,” he said.

Dragoo founded Mayfly in Colorado Springs in 2012, from where he already operated two businesses – Abel Reels and Charlton Reels, makers of fly-fishing reels and accessories. He moved his company to Montrose in August 2016 after purchasing Ross Reels, a Montrose business founded in 1983. Mayfly’s office and factory are located at 11 Ponderosa Court. The company employs 50 people  – 33 in Montrose, and 16 in California.

“The award brings recognition to Montrose and is good for the community,” Dragoo said. “And it’s beneficial for local and statewide recruiting. One of our goals is to create more jobs here.”

Dragoo is encouraging other businesses to set up shop in Montrose with the development of a business park along the Uncompahgre River where he has purchased property and is building a new factory for Mayfly. Dragoo is also improving fish habitat along a stretch of the river and is partnering with Montrose, the city recreation district, and Great Outdoors Colorado to construct a walkway along the river.

“One of our goals is to create a nice path, a good place to fly fish, and quality fish habitat,” he said.

Being named a Colorado Company to Watch shows that Montrose has a “compelling economic environment for business people like us,” Dragoo said.

Both Murphy and Montrose Economic Development Corporation executive director Sandy Head nominated Mayfly for the award.

“They’re working to develop (the riverfront property) into an outdoor recreation manufacturing hub – along with other businesses,” like restaurants and brewpubs, Head said. They’re going to develop a piece of land that has been idle for years. It will attract other manufacturers. Mayfly is most deserving of Colorado Company to Watch.”

Regional Broadband Update

Regional Broadband Update

Construction in Delta and Montrose has wrapped up and final review of each project is underway for official close out of the completed construction projects. Quotes for services have been provided to many of the community anchor institutions in these communities and are under review with their respective teams. Installations have occurred at several locations and live service is being delivered.

Region 10 and FastTrack Communications have entered into a partnership for delivery of Operations and Maintenance services. A Letter of Intent was signed on July 27th to begin service delivery while the contract is under legal review. Both Region 10 and FastTrack are excited about the partnership and are now working on network addressing engineering and design topology to deliver services to the end user.

For Gunnison County the 10Gbps wave (lit service) between Montrose and Gunnison has been commissioned, tested and certified as ready for turn-up by Century Link. Equipment for the Gunnison CNL is on order and will be installed at Western State temporarily as the CNL construction gets underway at the dispatch center. Once installed and tested end to end with Century Link we will immediately be able to provide service to the University in addition to backhaul services for ISP’s in the valley. We have also submitted the engineering order for the Montrose to Crested Butte 10Gbps wave in order to get a prospective turn-up date. The WAPA dark fiber IRU discussions continue to make progress as the WAPA team is involved in internal discussions in trying to assign a value to the resource and their operations. Western State and Bizon Networks continue to lead that process with assistance from the Region10 team.

DMEA continues to work on easement perfections in Delta and Montrose counties and is making great progress. We are currently involved in discussions for fiber access at CNL locations in Paonia, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, and Crawford in an effort to eliminate overbuilding existing assets and further developing the partnership. Since the last update, Montrose County has joined the project and we are working to add anchor locations and determining how best to partner to deliver service to Olathe, working together with the county and DMEA.

Fiber access options for Ridgway and Ouray continue to be explored with area partners. An engineering order has been submitted for a 10Gbps wave from Montrose to Ridgway. We fully expect to complete CNL locations in both communities this year.