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PSCDC provides broadband update, summer internship program in full swing


The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC) provided a brief update on broadband projects around the county at its June 12 meeting.

Executive Director Emily Lashbrooke stated, “We are finishing on time and on budget,” in regard to the new fiber loop helping connect uptown and downtown networks.

However, Lashbrooke noted an extra cost arose due to the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) needing to replace six poles from the broadband office’s new carrier-neutral location (CNL) building along U.S. 160 to the Vista Boulevard intersection.

Lashbrooke stated that LPEA claimed those poles were “over capacity” and they would not be able to attach the new fiber lines to them.

She noted this extra cost “would’ve thrown us way over budget,” but the PSCDC was able to use America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were still remaining.

Lashbrooke indicated the ARPA fund account now has a balance of approximately $69,000.

She went on to explain that this was a cost-share with LPEA and that, in the future, LPEA will have to lease fiber from the Broadband Services Management Office on their own poles.

 “So, that’ll be interesting as we work through that process,” she said.

Lashbrooke added that a four-way agreement is in place with Archuleta County, La Plata County, LPEA and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to have fiber lines established from U.S. 160 along Colo. 151 to Arboles and Colo. 172 to Ignacio.

“That agreement has been completed, all entities have paid their portion, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has the money,” Lashbrooke said.

She explained that the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has been contracted to “do that build,” noting they have two years to complete the project.

“But I expect it to be completed way before that two-year mark because they’re moving quickly,” she said.

Lashbrooke also mentioned that LPEA was recently planning on replacing $1 million worth of poles along Colo. 151, and that they were prepared to cover that costs “because they understand the collaboration on the project.”

She went on to explain that the Southern Ute Indian Tribe received a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that allowed the Southern Utes to use another grant to bury fiber lines the whole way.

Lashbrooke noted this alleviated that million-dollar expenditure for LPEA.

“This is a win-win if you ask my opinion, and I think it just shows a good collaboration and partnership between all parties,” she said.

She added that the trench for fiber lines has already been dug from U.S. 160 to Arboles.

“So, good news there,” she said.

Summer internship

“Holy cow,” Lashbrooke said, explaining the PSCDC put out a call to all students in Pagosa Springs to fill summer internship positions.

She noted the PSCDC needed to have at least 55 students placed in internship positions locally in order to get close to using all the grant funds awarded for the project.

Lashbrooke indicated that 67 local students signed up for the summer internship program.

“I think we can still stretch the money and make it work,” she said.

Lashbrooke explained that funding within the grant was reallocated in order to accommodate all 67 students. 

She noted there was funding set aside in the grant for personal protective equipment (PPE) requests, but that no PPE request had been received.

The PSCDC contacted the grant writer, requesting the designated PPE funds be reallocated in order to accommodate more intern positions, which was approved.

“So, we are gonna place 67 students,” she said, noting 32 students have already been placed in an internship position with 30 different businesses in the community. 

“We had to go and look for more jobs ... what a great problem to have,” Lashbrooke added.

She noted that the PSCDC is on track to spend all of the $192,000 grant before end of August.