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Notes & Commentary for March 1995

Brief by Central Staff

Various – March 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Going on-line

SAGUACHE — Ken Poirier has started a computer bulletin board, with the idea of linking to other systems and forming a “Colorado Mountain Valley Network.”

He wants more callers, so if you’ve got a computer and a modem, you can reach the new system a 719-655-2836, a local call from Salida and Crestone. It runs at any speed up to 14,400 bits per second; other settings are 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit.

The eventual idea is to run several systems, strategically placed to avoid toll charges while moving information around the mountains. To the south, say, Alamosa is long-distance from Saguache. But Center is a local call, and Alamosa is local from Center — so put a system in Center. To the north, Salida is local from Saguache, and Leadville from Salida. Westcliffe is long-distance from Salida, but Cotopaxi is local to both. Fairplay is local from Buena Vista — you should have the idea by now.

If you’re interested in reaching something closer to the “Information Superhighway,” talk to Jeff Donlan, just named head librarian of the Salida Regional Library (719-539-4826). There’s a special deal coming up in April which allows free access into some big-league data. We hope to have more on it next month after we’ve had a chance to try it.

Getting hung up

DENVER — State Sen. Linda Powers, a Crested Butte Democrat who represents much of Central Colorado, introduced a bill which would have required US West, the major regional telephone monopoly, to provide alternative service (such as cellular) when it can’t provide regular service on account of capacity shortages in growing areas.

Some people, she noted, have been waiting 1 years for service.

“We’re not asking for the information highway,” Powers said. “People in my district are asking for a dial tone.” Her bill died, likely for partisan reasons.

New company and code

WESTCLIFFE — Some of Central Colorado will have a new telephone company to complain about, anyway. Many US West rural exchanges, including Westcliffe and Guffey, have been sold to PTI, which has operated in Cotopaxi for years.

For arcane reasons resulting from how they divvy up money from the Universal Service Fund, PTI can get more for running a rural exchange than USWest could, and thereby keep local rates lower.

Since its customers are primarily urban, with lower costs, US West has to average those profits against its higher rural costs, and thus doesn’t get much from the fund. PTI, with primarily rural customers, is able to get more from the fund, and so exchanges which weren’t profitable for USWest could make money for PTI.

Remember that much of Colorado will have a new area code as of April 1. It does not affect you if you’re in 719 territory. But all of the current 303 zone, except for metro Denver, will become 970 territory — that is, Gunnison, Summit County, Vail, etc.

And, if you’re in Custer County, resist the temptation to call the sheriff’s office when you hear there’s something going on. After a fatal auto accident on Jan. 10, so many people called that the helicopter service kept getting a busy signal when it tried to reach the sheriff’s office, which has only two lines.

Compound tragedy

SALIDA — As best as anyone knows, it started with the Jan. 25 murder of Richard Johnson, a drug informant from Alamosa placed in Salida by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Johnson was found dead, his throat slit, up Ute Trail. A local boy was soon charged in the murder.

Johnson’s body was to be flown to Cortez Feb. 8 where his relatives would arrange for a funeral. Piloting the plane was Wil Atkinson, owner of Salida Air Service; with him was Bill Reeves, along to get some flying experience.

Caught in severe downdrafts, the plane crashed near Stout Creek Lakes in the Sangre de Cristo range. Both survived the crash. Reeves was able to walk out, but Atkinson died of exposure before rescuers could reach him on Feb. 10.

Aside from flying and operating Harriet Alexander Field in Salida, Wil Atkinson was a musician, a ham radio operator, and active in many community affairs. He leaves a widow, Joyce Hanagan, and a daughter. He will be missed.