One county, one local calling area: It has a nice ring to it |

One county, one local calling area: It has a nice ring to it

It’s been a long time coming but short-distance telephone calling looks like it is coming to all of Garfield County.

The local toll-free calling area is expected to be expanded next year to include all of the county’s population centers. This would allow residents of Parachute to call all the way to Carbondale without a long-distance charge.

The expanded calling area would include residents of the Sweetwater area at the Gypsum end of the Glenwood Canyon.

The new service could mean big savings for customers.

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin was the driving force behind expanding the toll-free area. He said as it made sense for all of Garfield County to be one calling area.

“This just facilitates better service for both ends of the county,” said Martin. “There shouldn’t be a charge for someone in Battlement Mesa to call the courthouse or a charge for a business in Carbondale to call Rifle. This just makes more sense.”

The process began in January when the county commissioners filed the application with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

In August an additional filing was made with citizen statements and more analysis.

Qwest said it wouldn’t cost much more to serve the extended area, but a rate increase in other long distance tolls may eventually result.

Qwest has signed and stipulated that it does not oppose the application but takes no other position.

All the municipal governments in the county endorsed the local calling expansion plan.

There will be no change in pre-existing local call areas. Parachute will still be included in the local calling area of DeBeque and Grand Junction.

The application is front of the PUC now and will be decided by an administrative law judge.

Martin doesn’t expect any complications because everyone agrees it is a logical application.

“I hope that sometime early next year we’ll have local calling across the county. It only makes sense,” said Martin.

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