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Broadband: It Takes a Village…

Broadband: It Takes a Village…

We’ve all heard this expression in one form or another most of our lives. It speaks to the essence of community engagement and involvement in solving issues and helping each other succeed.

And it is certainly true about the Region 10 broadband project.

With the help of state and local governments and agencies, organizations like the El Pomar Foundation and local business and citizen engagement, construction has begun in Delta on the first phase of the Middle Mile network, a not for profit network designed to bring affordable high speed broadband access and connectivity to municipal and county governments and anchor institutions across the region while also providing “open access” connection points to local retail Internet Service Providers to help expand services to underserved communities.

Construction in Delta is scheduled to finish in October while construction in Montrose should start within the next week. We are excited that the Montrose construction project has been awarded to a local construction firm, ensuring that those dollars are invested in our local economies. Engineering and planning activities continue at breakneck speed to ensure we meet our goal of lighting up services by the end of the year in these two communities and ready ourselves for Phase Two construction to begin early next year.

Without the participation and input from all of our partners and stakeholders, none of this would be possible. The opportunities and potential to share resources across the region, to help foster an environment of diverse economic development are a testament to our “village” recognizing a problem and coming together to create a solution.

Are you prepared for Medicare open enrollment?

Are you prepared for Medicare open enrollment?

Your SHIP Has Come In!

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for our region is housed at Region 10 under Community Living Services. SHIP is a state program that is funded by the federal government to give local health insurance counseling to people eligible for Medicare benefits.

10 Things You Need to Know about Medicare

SHIPs are not connected to any insurance company or health plan. Our services are free and confidential.  SHIP volunteers are well trained to help you with these Medicare questions or concerns:

  1. “Medicare and You” seminars for those new to Medicare
  2. Your Medicare rights
  3. Understanding your options
  4. Assistance with Medicare claims questions and/or appeals
  5. Billing and claims problems
  6. Assistance with Part D Prescription plan comparisons
  7. Assistance with paying for prescription drugs
  8. Assistance with complaints about your medical care of treatment
  9. Identify gaps in Medicare coverage and options to fill them evaluate Medicare supplement insurance options
  10. How Medicare works with other insurance.

Open enrollment begins October 15th thru December 7th

This is the time to enroll in or switch Part D Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans.  Your choice will take effect January 1st.  Most people will not be able to change plans again until the Annual Open Enrollment Period next year. It is important to review your plans every year.  Plans often make changes.  There may be new premiums, co-pays, and changes in the lists of drugs that are covered.  We recommend you evaluate your prescription drug coverage each year to determine which plan best fits your needs for the coming year.  You can enroll or change your Part D plans and Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans from October 15th thru December 7th.

SHIP is located at the Region 10 offices at 300 N. Cascade, Montrose.

Call us at 970-765-3132 or toll free at 1-888-696-7213 to speak to one of our certified SHIP counselors. Many questions can be handled with a phone call.  We serve the following counties:  Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Miguel, and Ouray.  We also have certified counselors in Lake City at 970-944-0321 and in Gunnison at 970-641-7984.

 

 

 

Broadband construction has started in Delta

Broadband construction has started in Delta

 

Construction of Region 10’s broadband, fiber-optic network is underway in the City of Delta. Contractor, TCS Communications has begun with underground boring and also with attaching fiber optic cables to poles within the city. Area residents will see the TCS crews and their equipment throughout various parts of the city as work progresses. TCS has multiple work crews on the ground performing both aerial and underground construction and will complete their portion of the project this fall.

City of Delta Community Development Director Glen Black says of the construction, “It’s truly exciting to finally have the Region 10 Project in the construction phase. A lot of good people have worked hard to get us to this point, and now the network is becoming a reality.” Region 10 and City of Delta staff from various departments including planning, development, public works and Delta Municipal Electric have been engaged in the planning phase of this network for well over two years.

TCS Communications is a Colorado-based company, and one of the state’s most experienced, network construction companies. TCS has extensive experience in Middle-Mile and Fiber to the Premise projects and will work closely with Region 10’s current broadband implementation team, NEO Connect and Actavo Engineering Services.

“It’s great to see construction start on this project,” said Chris Kennedy, the Regional Broadband Project Director for Region 10. “This is a real game-changer for the community, in terms of improved internet services, and true high-speed broadband.”

Construction for the Regional Broadband Project is divided into two phases. Phase One is currently underway and includes network construction in the Cities of Delta and Montrose. Phase Two will take place in 2017, with construction throughout Region 10’s member counties of Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Hinsdale. The continued goal of these efforts is to construct “middle mile” infrastructure throughout the Region, while providing redundancy for the individual communities. Local governments have identified affordable and reliable, high-speed broadband as essential to the Region’s economic development, public safety and health, and statewide competitiveness.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has provided extensive support for Region 10’s broadband project. DOLA has been a critical partner for infrastructure projects throughout the region and has provided leadership, technical support and grant funding throughout the broadband planning process.

 

BUILDING CAPACITY: Community Living Services provides options for local residents

BUILDING CAPACITY: Community Living Services provides options for local residents

Community Living Services ADRC is building capacity

The past year has brought more big changes to the program with the addition of ADRC Options Counselors to each county served by Region 10.

ADRC (Aging and Disability Resources for Colorado) serves adults with disabilities and older adults with information, referrals to programs and services that help people maintain their highest level of independence and remain in their community of choice. We needed to build our capacity throughout the region in order to best meet the needs of our consumers and we have been fortunate to contract with other agencies to meet those needs with Options Counselors who live in the community and understand the unique needs of those we serve and have access to local resources.

An Options Counseling visit usually occurs in the home giving us insight into the strengths and resources of each individual; the visit includes a comprehensive assessment and in-depth discussion with the consumer to determine what is working for them, what is not, and help them identify what they hope to achieve. We then work with them to develop a plan that helps them achieve those goals. This person centered approach ensures that the client makes educated decisions.

The process looks first at the financial picture to determine if the individual may be eligible for other programs like LEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance), Low Income Assistance for Medicare or Long Term Care Medicaid. Many older adults do not understand the difference between Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Social Security Disability. These programs can be difficult for anyone to understand but an older adult in crisis has a very tough time navigating the systems.

We are here to help them understand the options and make informed choices. There is nothing worse than finding a long term care policy after the financial assets have been depleted, but many people do not realize what they have until it is too late.

After the financial assessment we look at what the individual can do for themselves ADL’s (activities of daily living) the ability to dress, bathe, toilet, eat etc. and IADL’s (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living) pay bills, go shopping, take medications, prepare meals and clean house. These things help us determine if life lines, assisted transportation, home delivered meals, homemaker, personal care or caregiver respite would be helpful. We make suggestions and offer options; it is always up to the consumer to decide their own path.

People often assume they need to go to the nursing home when they begin to struggle; there are so many resources to help people remain in their home, in an environment they are comfortable in, at a much lower cost.

We actually have a lot of resources in the region that most people are not aware of until they need them. One of our goals as an agency is to offer community education about these topics and create well informed consumers who are able to make better decisions when the time comes. Check out the calendar of events for educational presentations and evidenced based programs throughout the region.

Knowledge is power!

Amy Rowan-Lead Options Counselor 970-765-3123          Claudette Nicolas-970-765-3121

Caitlin Williams-Delta Co OC-970-399-3615                            Diana Baker-Gunnison Co OC 970-641-7984

Deon Tempfer-West End OC 970-708-7096                           Mary Cockle-Ouray Co OC 970-325-4586

Jacqi Kambish-Hinsdale Co OC 970-944-0231

“Powerful Tools for Caregivers” now available in Montrose

“Powerful Tools for Caregivers” now available in Montrose

Powerful Tools for Caregivers, an educational series designed to provide caregivers with the resources they need to take care of themselves, is coming to Montrose. Scheduled to start on September 26th 2016, Powerful Tools will be held at the Montrose County Health & Human Services building (1845 South Townsend Ave).

Presented by Region 10, The Area Agency on Aging, this program helps family caregivers reduce stress, improve self-confidence, communicate feelings better, balance their lives, increase their ability to make tough decisions, and locate helpful resources.

Classes consist of six sessions held once a week from 1:00 to 3:30 pm. The courses will be taught by experienced caregivers who have successfully applied the techniques they teach. Interactive lessons, discussions, and brainstorming will help caregivers develop the “tools” they need to maintain their peace of mind.

Class participants will receive the book, The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class. A $25 donation is requested for participants over the age of 60, but not required. Participants under the age of 60 are required to pay the $25 fee.

For more information or to register, contact Sandy Walker at (970) 765-3131 or sandy@region10.net. Participants can also register at www.region10.net/powerfultools.

Region 10 announces contractor selection for broadband construction

Region 10 announces contractor selection for broadband construction

Region 10 has selected TCS Communications LLC, a Colorado-based contractor, to build broadband infrastructure in the City of Delta. Region 10 welcomes TCS to its broadband implementation team and looks forward to working with one of Colorado’s best network construction companies, with extensive experience in Middle-Mile and Fiber to the Premise projects. TCS will work in collaboration with Region 10’s current broadband implementation team, Actavo and NEO Connect, and is scheduled to complete construction this fall.

TCS Communications was chosen from a broad field of applicants through a competitive bidding process. Proposals were evaluated based on numerous criteria including; company qualifications, pricing and approach to the project, and experience and references. Although bids came in from across the country, TCS’ proposal was the clear standout in both value and approach. TCS President James Dunham says of the project, “TCS is looking forward to working with Region 10 and the City of Delta, and is excited to be a part of bringing broadband to Western Colorado.” With years of experience in rural Colorado and New Mexico and as the current contractor for network construction in the City of Longmont, TCS is the right choice for building a broadband network in the City of Delta. Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes says that, “Region 10 is thrilled to work with a Colorado-based company that has a proven track record here at home, and throughout the rural west. TCS is a great fit for Regional Broadband in Western Colorado.”

Construction for the Regional Broadband Project is divided into two phases. Phase One is currently underway and includes network construction in the Cities of Delta and Montrose. Phase Two will take place in 2017, with construction throughout Region 10’s member counties of Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Hinsdale. Region 10 has issued three invitations for bids so far in Phase One, the first being the Request for Information (RFI) for Dark Fiber IRU or Swap Agreement. The purpose of this bid was to invite those companies with networks in the region to discuss how they could partner with Region 10 for the benefit of the various communities. The second invitation was the Request for Proposal (RFP) for network construction in the City of Delta. And a third invitation to bid was issued in July for network construction in the City of Montrose. Proposals are currently under review, with contractor selection expected soon.

The RFPs and RFI are part of a long term Region 10 initiative to help local governments in bringing high-speed, Gigabit-enabled broadband to their communities. The continued goal of these efforts is to construct the “middle mile” infrastructure throughout the Region, while providing redundancy for the individual communities. Local governments have identified affordable and reliable, high-speed broadband as essential to the Region’s economic development, public safety and health, and statewide competitiveness.

Region 10’s efforts have been extensively supported by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) in this broadband project. DOLA has been a critical partner for infrastructure projects throughout the region and has provided leadership, technical support and grant funding throughout the broadband planning process.

Broadband Update – 8/12/16

Broadband Update – 8/12/16

Summary

The construction contractor for The City of Delta has been selected and contract execution is pending. A pre-construction meeting occurred on August 10th in the City of Delta. The RFP for OSP Construction in the City of Montrose is open for bidding with proposals due August 12. Review and evaluation of the responses to the RFI for Dark Fiber is ongoing.

Engineering and design of Carrier Neutral Locations, equipment shelters and network equipment is ongoing. Multiple competitive bid processes will be issued for these components of the network implementation.

Construction activities are scheduled to begin in the City of Delta August 15 and are expected in the City of Montrose by the end of August. Actavo and NEO Connect are finalizing design and equipment requirements for connection of Region 10 and Grand Junction.

A press release will be issued this week to announce that Region 10 has selected a contractor for OSP Construction in The City of Delta.

Request(s) for Proposal – RFP for OSP Construction in the Cities of Delta & Montrose

Construction contractor TCS Communications has been selected to complete OSP Construction in The City of Delta. Execution of the contract and announcement of award is pending. Region 10, NEO Connect and Actavo will meet with TCS in a preconstruction meeting on August 10 in Delta. Review of design, bonding, insurance and construction documents is ongoing.

The RFP for OSP Construction in The City of Montrose has been posted for review and bidding by over 800 firms at www.rockymountainbidsystem.com. This document has also been transmitted directly to construction firms across the country, in an effort to increase response rates to the RFP as much as possible. Deadline for submission of proposals has been extended to August 12 with construction activities starting by August 25th.

Engineering, Field Survey Work and Permitting

The City of Delta has is currently reviewing the final permitting packages submitted by Actavo. Actavo is coordinating with TCS to review design/engineering and permitting. Permitting applications with the BLM, Railroad and CDOT are on schedule. Engineering and quality assurance activities continue throughout the Cities of Montrose and Delta to address minor design changes in preparation for construction. Actavo and NEO Connect continue to work on the RFP for Network Equipment and Shelters.

Chris Kennedy hired as Broadband Project Director

Chris Kennedy hired as Broadband Project Director

With the acquisition of several large grants and the development of a comprehensive implementation strategy, the regional broadband network proposed by Region 10 is becoming more of a reality by the day.

As this project accelerates, the need for a high level of detail and technical knowledge to implement the strategy are the utmost importance. Region 10 created a position dedicated to this very need, and recently filled the opening.

Chris Kennedy, the new Regional Broadband Project Director hired by Region 10, brings over 25 years of experience in integrating telecommunication technology systems and developing successful models of implementation.

Kennedy’s background is a robust mixture of public service and entrepreneurialism. Kennedy’s public service spans from his time serving in the United States Marine Corps to his current role as Councilman at Large with the City of Grand Junction.

Kennedy’s tenure in the private sector has centered on telecommunication technology. With a resume that boasts titles such as Director Engineering with Charter Communications, Systems Integration Manager with CompuCom and Technical Operations Manager with Bresnan Communications, Kennedy has dedicated the bulk of his professional career to proliferation of information technology. He also started his own business—Kennedy Telecom—which has an 11 year track record of delivering information technology solutions to small businesses in Western Colorado.

Approaching a professional crossroad, Kennedy needed to determine if he wanted to continue down the road of his corporate path or to do something with a deeper impact on his community.

“I wanted to do something more altruistic with an NGO or non-profit that focused on improving quality of life and entrepreneurial opportunities in the broadband space,” Kennedy states.

During his tenure with City of Grand Junction, Kennedy was introduced to the state and local efforts to expand broadband on the Western Slope during a conference in Vail last year. As a result of this networking event, Kennedy learned about Region 10, and kept close tabs on the organization’s efforts. Once the Broadband Project Manager position was created, Kennedy knew that he was the right fit for the job.

“Region 10 is pleased to have someone with Chris’ experience in both the private and public sectors, as it serves the overall mission and intent of the Region 10 project in the best possible way,” states Michelle Haynes, Executive Director of Region 10. “We are looking forward to having Chris’ expertise to lead the implementation of the Region 10 project, as well as assist our local governments to leverage the project as it works best in their local communities.”

Kennedy will serve as the primary liaison for all of the existing partnerships—including Region 10 municipalities and county governments, internet service providers, utility coops, and a plethora of engaged community stakeholders—that are driving the construction of the new network.

Calling himself a “cheerleader for broadband,” Kennedy is passionate about the delivery of this service throughout communities in need to adapt to a 21st century economy. “My vision is to get as much affordable, high-speed data access to as many people in as many places as is economically feasible,” he comments.

As the new public face of broadband, Kennedy will face the daunting task of coordinating the existing broadband implementation strategy, which includes the buildout of middle-mile infrastructure designed to deliver affordable, abundant, and redundant internet service to the six-county region served by Region 10.

The position is funded in part by a $75,000 grant awarded to Region 10 by the El Pomar Foundation for two years.

In an official statement, the El Pomar Foundation wrote the following in regards to the grant: “Recognizing the impact of access to broadband on the region’s economic development efforts, Region 10 and the San Juan Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation have recognized the value of a regional broadband coordinator. Region 10 has received this grant from the San Juan Regional Council to support this effort.”

Only a few days into his first week, Kennedy hit the ground running. Region 10’s broadband committee is currently reviewing request for proposals for construction on the first phase of the network’s buildout, which covers Delta County and parts of Montrose County.

“Region 10 is certainly heading in the right direction when it comes to broadband,” Kennedy comments.

Considering the resources set aside specifically at the state and federal level, Kennedy adds, “It’s a good political environment and funding environment to make that happen.” Kennedy remains optimistic about the future of broadband for the region.

For more information regarding broadband, Kennedy can be reached at chris@region10.net and (970) 765-3139.

Eva Goes to Washington

Eva Goes to Washington

By Eva Veitch
Director, Community Living Services

A couple of months ago I found an email from Senators Gardner and Bennett in my spam email. I took a chance and opened the invitation to “Colorado at the Capital.” This event is co-sponsored by our Senators, CMU, and CU Boulder and is intended to better engage community leaders. I was intrigued by the invitation so I explored the website and decided to apply. After all, I have plenty to say about aging and disabilities, the re-authorization of the Older Americans Act, the lack of support for the Long Term Care Ombudsman program; and the list goes on. Maybe I could get someone to listen or at least make some valuable contacts for future crusades.

Much to my surprise, I made the cut and my agency supported the trip. I was off to Washington, DC June 8th. It was a jam packed agenda of high powered Washington politicians held at the Capital Building. I was joined in this experience by a wide variety of Coloradoans who were eager to learn what really happens in DC. We experienced first-hand what it actually takes to get a bill passed as Cory Gardner fought for a bill that has an economic impact on Colorado. It is a very slow-moving process, but we kept hearing that our Nation’s Founders designed it that way to ensure that decisions that impact all of us are well thought out, that there is always a “devil’s advocate” and several opportunities to ask why before ideas become law.

I am happy to say that Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett are both highly regarded by their peers at the Capital. Many of the speakers complimented “our guys” as people who really care about the issues and set a good example for working across the isle. I was impressed by the caliber of young people who intern at the Capital, there are many up and coming future politicians who are eager to make a difference. The political climate this year made for many interesting conversations and being right there in DC I found myself questioning some of my own opinions. It is good to hear all sides of the story before making your own conclusions.

Our group was dynamic and diverse with representatives from large and small business, educations, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, law and local government. We were all eager to see how things happen at the Capital and “our Colorado team on the hill” did not disappoint. Senators Gardner and Bennett work hard to represent us in our Nation’s Capital. In this year of extreme political turmoil; I was pleased to see people treating one another with respect and trying to make good decisions on our behalf. I am encouraged by the number of interested and engaged young people and overall hopeful. I was amazed that most of my fellow travelers had no idea about the Older Americans Act or how to access services for older adults; I educated anyone who would listen!

This country girl returned to Colorado tired but optimistic. I would encourage everyone to learn more and seek opportunities like this one to become more engaged in what goes on in our world.

Region 10 to Hire Broadband Coordinator

Region 10 to Hire Broadband Coordinator

This article originally appeared in Gunnison Country Times, and Region 10 received permission to republish. 

Region 10 to hire broadband coordinator

Position funded by economic development grant

By Alan Wartes
Gunnison Times Staff Writer

These days, there is at least one thing upon which most people in rural Colorado can agree — the need for improved broadband internet service. Recent outages across much of the Western Slope have left little doubt that the combination of society’s increasing dependence on the internet and lagging infrastructure development is a real problem facing communities in the region.

Region 10 — a “non-profit organization offering public programs in support of eighteen local communities and six counties in western Colorado”  — is taking the lead in tackling the issue. The group is spearheading a major project to improve internet redundancy throughout the region — that is, to provide “carrier neutral” backup conduits for internet service — whether through parallel fiber optic cables or other means of transmission.
To better manage that program, Region 10 has announced plans to hire a regional broadband coordinator. The position will be funded for the first two years by a $150,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation.
“Recognizing the impact of access to broadband on the region’s economic development efforts, Region 10 and the San Juan Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation have recognized the value of a regional broadband coordinator,” a foundation release states. “This position will be responsible for managing the implementation of the Region 10 broadband plan, as well as coordinating with local governments and internet service providers to leverage resources and complete middle mile broadband connections.”
The grant was recommended by El Pomar’s San Juan Regional Council, one of 11 such bodies throughout Colorado designed to help disburse the foundation’s funding more evenly across the state. Former Gunnison County Commissioner Hap Channell is a member.
“As a council, we wanted to help boost economic development in the region and felt that funding this coordinator position was a tangible way to do just that,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“In a perfect world, the West Slope would not have our systems go down like they did recently,” said Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes. “We would have sufficient redundancy to maintain adequate service at all times. That means that businesses and individuals have access to the services they need at an affordable enough rate that they are competitive with anyone else in the state or in the country.”
Haynes admits, however, that achieving that goal — especially in challenging locations like Gunnison County — is at best a long-term, expensive undertaking. At present, CenturyLink owns the only fiber optic cable coming in and out of the community, and the investment needed to duplicate that system as a backstop against outages is prohibitive.
The Region 10 infrastructure program — in which a number of local governments and organizations are participating — is exploring a variety of alternative methods of connecting the Gunnison Valley with networks elsewhere in the state. Those include microwave links pointed east and south and a plan to use high-tension power lines belonging to the Western Area Power Administration.
“The story is still to try to get people to envision the internet as entertainment, a luxury, an add-on if you will,” said Haynes. “But that’s not what it’s become. It’s a necessity, and it probably should have been thought of all along as a public utility, but it certainly is at a utility level now.
Haynes said Region 10 has received numerous “promising” applications for the new position, and she hopes to have the job filled by Aug. 1.