A roadblock in the on-ramp to the information highway

Article by Ed Quillen

Communications – March 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

A roadblock in the on-ramp to the Information Highway

For many people in Central Colorado lately, Internet access has consisted of a busy signal, rather than the squeaks and hums of connecting modems.

That’s been the situation at Mountain Computer Wizards of Buena Vista, which provides Internet access via chaffee.net to us and hundreds of other people in the region.

The company has been adding customers, but not adding access lines. The result is a system where getting on, especially from noon to about 10 p.m., requires persistence and good luck, as well as enough patience to avoid the temptation to smash your computer after the 10th unsuccessful effort.

What’s happened?

The company is involved in a lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial just as we were going to press. But we did drop by the courthouse to look at the filings of charges and countercharges, which now fill two folders, each about as thick as a Denver telephone book.

The case, 98CV55, was filed on June 15, 1998, by Howard Eugene “Tres” Melton, III, of Buena Vista. He was suing Joseph A. Conrad and Margaret Williamson, both also of Buena Vista, and a corporation: Melton Conrad Williamson, Inc., which has apparently become Mountain Computer Wizards, Inc.

According to Melton’s complaint, MCW was organized in August of 1996. He paid $10,000 for 800 shares, while Williamson and Conrad each paid $1,250 for 100 shares.

So Melton believed he was the majority stockholder, with 80% of the shares, a controlling interest, and he also lent the company $20,000.

He charges that Williamson and Conrad met behind his back on May 5, 1998, and arranged to amend the articles of incorporation, issue more stock, alter the terms of his loans to the company, etc. He asked for a restraining order that would undo that meeting.

In their answer, Williamson and Conrad say that MCW then desperately needed new equipment to stay competitive and that Melton had avoided them and any discussion of the matter. So they were trying to act in the company’s interest when they agreed to issue stock to a new investor, Cindy Quinn.

That’s just the start — there have been struggles, some of them physical, over access to MCW’s records and computers.

We haven’t got a clue as to which side might prevail in court. But we do hope that Mountain Computer Wizards gets its act together soon — until last fall, its service was excellent, and busy signals were a rarity. Now that’s about all you get, and the connection is often flaky when you do get on.