Red Cliff celebrates its broadband after decades of dreaming, years of work | VailDaily.com

Red Cliff celebrates its broadband after decades of dreaming, years of work

RED CLIFF — You don't cut a ribbon when you're celebrating your town's new broadband connection, you connect ribbons and everything else.

And that's why Red Cliff Mayor Anuschka Bales tied two long yellow ribbons together as Red Cliff celebrated its townwide broadband.

"This is about Red Cliff connecting to the wider world. We felt that instead of cutting a ribbon, we should connect one together," Bales said. "I now declare the town of Red Cliff … connected!"

After decades of dreaming and years of working, Red Cliff celebrated in the Red Cliff Community Center on Wednesday morning, Jan. 17. For the record, the Wi-Fi password in that building is REDCLIFF, and it works.

"With the ubiquitousness of the internet in modern life, Red Cliff was in danger of floundering without an effective means of connecting to the wider world," Bales told Wednesday's crowd.

It's already making a difference. Business inquiries are up, and in just a few days, 47 households have hooked up, with dozens more to come of Red Cliff's 150 households.

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Of those, 45 children live in Red Cliff who can now do their online homework assignments.

In fact, as Red Cliff began closing in on making broadband a reality, the town has seen more building permits and remodel applications in the last year than it has in the last five, said Barb Smith, Red Cliff's town administrator.

Red Cliff's long road

Red Cliff started down this road … a long, long time ago. Federal agencies, state agencies, private landowners and even federal agencies that oversee Native American affairs had to line up. It took years. Red Cliff was on the "stagnant" list, then off of it.

Bales and many others started working every angle they could, including Sen. Michael Bennet, whose staff began aligning stars and agencies.

Eventually, Ski Cooper got involved. Red Cliff's broadband beams down from a lift tower atop Ski Cooper, to a tower Red Cliff hired Mike Kelley's Mountain Tower to build in town when Red Cliff did not yet have broadband, and it was unclear when, or if, the town would.

However, if they build it, broadband will come, Kelley said.

None of the money agencies would talk to Red Cliff until they had a provider on board, which turned out to be Eric Hager and Forethought.

"Without a provider on board, we would not have been able to get off the 'stagnant' list and begin this project," Bales said. "I think I can speak for all Red Cliff residents when I say we are more than happy to fork over our $70 a month."

In fact, Greg Winkler, with Colorado's Department of Local Affairs, said that Ski Cooper tower will beam broadband over Mosquito Pass to all sorts of other areas, including guests at Ski Cooper.

"This is an excellent example of collaboration," Winkler said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.