Theresa Rose, North Forty News staff writer
This year, the Red Feather Lakes Community Library received a grant for $100,000 from the EBSCO company out of Ipswich, Massachusetts. The grant was issued for the building of solar panels, enabling the library to function off-grid, and the community to have access to an information hub during power outages and in emergency situations.
The High Park Fire of 2012 was the third largest wildfire in Larimer County history. This was followed by the floods of 2013. It became obvious that Larimer County had serious problems with emergency management, the 74E corridor emerging as particularly vulnerable, where communities could easily become isolated and inaccessible in emergency situations. The Red Feather Lakes library became the most important resource for the Red Feather Lakes community to access news and information and therefore became the headquarters for the North 40 Mountain Alliance.
The North 40 Mountain Alliance was formed as a series of communication hubs to dispatch information to the local communities in the event of an emergency. The Alliance relies upon an Emergency Operations Center and the Volunteer Fire Departments to communicate with the Community Hub via Amateur Radio Emergency Services. The Community Hub is a place where residents can come to gain information and have access to resources. The Red Feather Lakes Library serves as one of these community hubs. The others are the Basecamp at Crystal Lakes and the Mountain Meeting Place in Glacier View Meadows. From these community hubs, information is dispatched to Neighborhood Captains, who compile phone trees and visit the hubs to obtain information and dispatch this information to their various communities.
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Darlene Kilpatrick is the Public Services Librarian & Programming Coordinator at the Red Feather Lakes Library and also the Director of the North 40 Mountain Alliance, Inc. John Parker is the North 40 Operations Director. Creed Kidd is the Red Feather Lakes Library Director. A library by definition an information center. It is vital for the library to function in the event of a power outage, thus the need for the solar panels. EPSCO is the acronym for the Elton B. Stevens Company and is a subscription service making resources available to libraries with substantial price breaks, also providing consolidation services enabling the libraries to pay one price per year for multiple magazines. This way, library users may access hundreds of thousands of magazines and resources with their library card. EPSCO prides itself on being a “green” company with 3 photovoltaic panels, charging stations for electric cars and recycling facilities. The company received 78 applications for the $100,000 grant, of which there were three available. Criteria included demonstration of need, timeliness of the project and most importantly, community participation. Of these three criteria, the Red Feather Lakes library received a perfect score.
The library operates seven days a week with the same hours every day and only closes on major holidays. There are no overdue fees, no limits on computer time and no card needed for internet service. At present, staff is researching contractors and comparing bids. Construction is expected to commence next year.