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Traders want band width

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — A sort of Field of Dreams story is being reported by the Crested Butte News. There, in Gunnison County, elected officials are being lobbied to push expansion of the Internet infrastructure into sparsely settled parts of the county.

The improved Internet infrastructure, explains the Crested Butte News, would expedite development of home-based businesses.

High-speed broadband is currently provided to Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Mt. Crested Butte, as well as some peripheral areas.

However, many more isolated outposts do not have broadband. Plus, some in the Crested Butte area hope for a fibre-optic line. Among them is Mark Giganti, who is based in Chicago but would prefer to operate his small trading company in the slope-side town of Mt. Crested Butte.

"There are a lot of companies like mine that would move here if the services were available," he says. "Everybody in trading is trying to move to these smaller communities, and they are all having the same problems I am."

Added Giganti: "You can’t come in here and just start a business like mine right now. But it seems to me that if you build it, they will come."

For that matter, Crested Butte is already thick with part-time people interested in trading, computers and other businesses dependent upon good, Internet access. "I know, because I meet them all on the plane, commuting to other locations," he said.

Jason Swensen, a representative of Internet Colorado, a service provider, is calling for the county to seek economic-development grants. He estimated the cost of installing a fibre-optic line to Crested Butte at $300,000 to $500,000. Jon DeVore, the county manager, suggests the fibre-optic line should be publicly owned.

CB fights moly mine

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Activists and local governments continue to fight the transfer of public land near Crested Butte for what could eventually be a large molybdenum mine.

Two years ago the federal government transferred 155 acres on Mt. Emmons to a mining company, Phelps Dodge. Crested Butte, the town, as well as Gunnison County and an environmental group, High Country Citizens Alliance, argued that the transfer was illegal, but a U.S. District Court judge ruled a year ago against the locals.

The locals have appealed that decision to the U.S. 10 th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that third parties that are affected by privatization of the land under the 1872 Mining Act should be able to sue. Kevin Flynn, an attorney for the Western Mining Project, calls it a potentially precedent-setting case.