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Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families

(Dillon Center for Broadband Excellence)


By Frank Odasz, Lone Eagle Consulting
Email: Frank@lone-eagles.com

Brief Project Summary


Broadband-enabled Jobs:


Our intent is to conduct a feasibility study for building a Dillon Center for Excellence in association with the Butte Supercomputer project as a training center for broadband entrepreneurship, remote home agents, and computer-related job training. President-Elect Obama's proposal for a massive government spending program to lift the country out of economic recession includes an initiative to extend high-speed Internet to under-served areas. This is a unique opportunity for Montanans and something which our State's leadership can support in the emerging political climate.


This feasibility study will identify the best existing resources (physical, economic, telecommunications, public and people), training opportunities, and general trends to establish whether a Center for Excellence makes sense in Dillon, to showcase the evolving best practices for providing online resources, training, and job matching services for all Montanans in the following categories:

Project Economic Impact Statement:

This research project will identify the best replicable models for providing training and connectivity to create broadband-enabled jobs in Southwest Montana and statewide with a feasible plan to provide online resources for all Montanans showcasing e-commerce success stories, the best training resources, and an actionable vision for the future for all Montanans with emphasis on youth E-entrepreneurship curriculum to minimize youth out-migration and a new form of adult E-learning customized for rural and Native American Montanans. In partnership with the Butte Supercomputer center and multiple local county and state agencies a uniquely Montanan 21st Century digital inclusion program will - at lower cost - do a better job matching needs with resources and people with jobs and job training opportunities.

Project Description:


The impetus for this study came from:

1. Ron Swenson’s visit to Dillon seeking suggestions for use of his two plots of land near the YMCA – the land for which was donated by Ron’s family, including additional land for the proposed Beaverhead Independent Living Center. Initial meetings were scheduled by Frank Odasz with the Beaverhead Development Corporation, County Commissioner Mike McKinley, Dillon City Council, University of Montana Western, and others.

2. Frank Odasz met with Alex Philip, Rocky Mountain Supercomputer Center, and Earl Dodd, IBM Deep Computing, regarding the Supercomputer initiative's plans for five regional centers of excellence. Current plans include centers for Biomimicry and Health Informatics. Creating a Dillon Center of Common Sense Excellence (The Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families) was discussed and includes the themes below which would address how rural citizens can learn to benefit from Broadband Training Best Practices. A K-16 educational component for supercomputing related topics was discussed.

3. Frank Odasz, President of Lone Eagle Consulting, has been advising Senators Tester and Baucus on emerging synergies between Health Information Technology, Rural Broadband, and Broadband Entrepreneurship as a means for lowering costs and improving services necessary for rural family sustainability. The Obama presidency’s projected expansion of rural broadband and social media civic engagement dovetails with opportunities for a uniquely Montanan showcase project “combining caring and connectivity with common sense” as a timely national model.

4. SolarQuest, founded by Ron Swenson and Allan Baer, has recently joined with the University of North Texas to secure a $1.5 million NSF grant, MSOSW: Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World, a new middle school ITEST project focused on children using energy monitoring equipment in diverse home and community settings. (See appendix for more details.) The methodology being developed under this grant is envisioned as a template for developing certain attributes of The Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families.

The Big Picture:

The emerging political/economic opportunity is to identify the multiple cost saving opportunities for smarter use of rural broadband through widespread citizen engagement in new broadband-enabled E-learning opportunities for creating new jobs related to: (1) Broadband entrepreneurship, (2) Wellness/Health I.T./Health Care jobs, and (3) Energy conservation and renewable generation jobs.  We need the most efficient means of matching E-government services with the mounting needs of citizens. Creating socio-economic capacity through widespread citizen engagement in community service via social media E-learning has the real potential to leverage the existing innovations of Montanans and to stimulate new cultural norms for innovation and collaboration. The opportunity exists to tap into the boom of related innovations nationally and internationally to allow Montanans to demonstrate a model for rural America to continually keep up to the most current instant of progress, in short, combining caring and connectivity with common sense in a uniquely Montanan Center of Excellence.

Statement of Need:

To effectively weather the current economic crisis, there is a need for a new form of community education and fast-track local and state action. Montana has over 500 rural communities in dire economic straits along with major youth out-migration and sustainability challenges. Rural community sustainability requires intelligent use of fast Internet connections for community wellness across the following essential areas: 1. Safety, 2. Health, 3. Education, 4. E-commerce, 5. Energy,  6. Social Services, 7. Culture, 8. Government, 9. Enterpreneurship, and 10. Entertainment.


Research Priorities:

Below we address research priorities to determine the feasibility of building employment opportunities in these areas: 

1.  Creating Broadband-enabled jobs and identify related on-site and online training opportunities;

2.  Identify Local and State E-government best practices for delivery of government services at lower cost;

3.  Identify and disseminate E-learning innovations for Health, Energy, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and other essential topics for K-100 learners;

4.  Digital Literacy and Inclusion - citizen civic engagement, peer mentoring, service learning.

In more detail:

1. Creating Broadband-enabled jobs and identify related on-site and online training opportunities

Broadband (high speed Internet) is becoming a necessity, offering the possibility of working from home, making life easier and more connected. In our world of accelerating change, determining how our communities will adapt and tap into the best solutions on an ongoing basis, is our challenge.

This proposed study will research the question: “What’s the best Montanans and their various community and service organizations including local, county and state levels of government and leadership can learn to do using broadband (fast internet) to create new jobs, provide online training and support, while lowering costs?

As the boom of bottom up innovations increases due to growing broadband access worldwide, Montanans have the opportunity to learn from the best of these to inform new best practices on an ongoing basis. Leapfrogging from behind to enjoy the best of the more current innovations has proven to be viable for many third world countries.

Common sense applications for fast Internet connections (broadband) are needed to help rural businesses, farmers, and ranchers keep costs down and grow their capacity for economic survival. As keynoters stated repeatedly throughout the 2007 Butte Economic Summit, “Rural Montanans can now use E-commerce to tap into global markets to supplement their farm/ranch incomes online, and telework from anywhere.” 

Supplementing family incomes using Internet is becoming increasingly common though most rural citizens do not yet know where to go to learn how to do this. Being rural should not mean being unaware of best practices for using Internet for rural sustainability when it is so easy and cost effective to put online training and mentoring services online. Online distance learning and mentoring opportunities are profound, cost effective, and desperately needed.

The Supercomputer is projected to create 125 PhD level jobs. MSU's TechRanch initiative and similar angel networks have focused on high end technology transfer entrepreneurship based on venture capital models to generate high paying jobs, such as 250 bioscience jobs in Hamiliton, as one recent example.  Such jobs are beyond the reach of most Montanans who might best benefit from a $15 hour home-based job as a remote home agent using broadband, or perhaps establishing a web presence and E-marketing plan for their family business. Researching such opportunities suitable for the vast majority of Montanans has been overlooked and will be an area of emphasis for this study.  Entrepreneurial programs for youth with emphasis on STEM and digital technologies at all levels is booming nationally and internationally. Can Montana embrace such programs?

The Supercomputer project MOU is in progress and the Dillon Center can become a hub for online K-16 education related to visual computing, GIS innovations, and much more. E-learning for all is a theme echoing the current boom of innovation related to E-government social media applications. Read the first article only at http://lone-eagles.com/social-media-trends.htm to get a feel for what we don’t know is already happening.


Dillon’s Medline, New Harvest, and other local businesses are already successful using the Internet and local workers. More examples (at http://lone-eagles.com/dillon.htm  and http://lone-eagles.com/dillonbusdirectory.htm ) offer other related innovations in Dillon.

It will be what rural Americans learn to actually DO with broadband that will determine their level of global competitiveness and benefits.

Today's "new economy" is knowledge-based, entrepreneurial, and globally competitive to an extent that was almost unimaginable even a decade ago. Education is the key to the 21st century, both in terms of economic prosperity and personal achievement. While many of us are intimidated by the pace of change all around us, simple short articles like the following blog posting can serve to raise awareness that other rural citizens are indeed finding solutions we can learn from:

 Daily Yonder Rural E-newsletter Article: Wanted: Broadband and Broader Minds
 Rural Telework, Youth E-entrepreneurship, and rural broadband benefits.

2. Identify Local and State E-government best practices for delivery of government services at lower cost.

A sample literature review of social media trends in local, state and federal E-govermental processes at http://lone-eagles.com/social-media-trends.htm   makes it clear that a great deal of innovation is already underway outside Montana.


The opportunity is to introduce and engage the majority of citizens to new ways to learn and interact socially, politically, and economically. The Obama adminstration's effective use of social media has set the stage for a smarter, more interconnected democracy, but cultural barriers still exist to embracing these new technologies. The opportunity is to lower costs, improve services and to provide wholely new opportunties for lifelong learning, community service, home-based businesses, and much more. The research conducted for this project will validate what's known, proven, and projected for uniquely Montanan innovations.

Identify and disseminate E-learning innovations for Health, Energy, Supercomputing, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and other essential topics for K-100 learners

Health: Senator Baucus, as chair of the Senate finance committee is championing health care reform as a first priority. Wellness education and services, broadband-enabled Health Information Technology cost-savings and related consumer empowerment E-learning and communications options all create opportunities for citizens to learn how to better care for themselves and to reduce costs at all levels. Frank Odasz serves on the consumer empowerment workgroup for the Health Information Management Systems Society www.himss.org and has visited with Senator's Baucus and Tester in DC regarding this issue and how rural broadband training best practices relate wellness, and family incomes, and more. Congressional input document: http://lone-eagles.com/hit.htm


Researching the potential opportunities and synergies regarding the Butte Supercomputer, fiber optics to Dillon, cloud computing and web 2.0 trends, regarding broadband entrepreneurship jobs and training. The social media phenomena over the past few years coupled with the Obama president campaign's runaway success engaging citizens and raising funds is now slated toward unprecedented organized civic action and service learning. The potential is most pointedly leveraging Montana's greatest uptapped energy reserve- -the innovative potential of Montanans themselves.

Research will be conducted on how mass participation can help Montanans work more closely together to match needs and resources at all levels. It is time to acknowledge and leverage the existing volume of bottom-up innovations, particularly regarding rural ecommerce and telework, and to create innovative recognition incentives to bring Montanans together and stimulate further innovation.

Energy Education:


·       Energy conservation education for youth to perform home-based energy efficiency use assessments

·       Community education on alternative energy solutions for homes and communities

·       Community service energy demonstration projects in Dillon for solar, wind, etc.

·       Broadband applications can include energy education online courses and updated resources

·       The University of Montana Western is exploring new degree programs related to energy and sustainability

·       Potential community service within the energy education sub-Project:

The following community service activities might take place in the summer as a pilot program to test the conclusions of the feasibility study.

·       Dillon YMCA

  Swimming pool Solar Water heater

  Photovoltaics (PV) = solar electricity

  Solar "sun-tubes" for lighting

  Exterior KalWall for winter heating -- see http://www.kalwall.com/ and http://www.solar-components.com/

  Insulation upgrade, especially exterior insulation for building extension

   Shades above southern windows for summer heat control 

Dillon Beaverhead Inn

  Roof-mounted Solar water heater

  roof-mounted PV

  Cover south side walkways during winter (for space heating)

Blacktail Meadows Independent Living

  Comprehensive solar design along the lines of http://www.ecotopia.com/webpress/4donkeys.htm   

4. Digital Literacy and Inclusion - citizen civic engagement, peer mentoring, service learning

Montana has the fifth highest level of community service participation in the nation; 38%. The governor has supported broader use of distance learning to reduce our carbon emissions. New broadband technologies will make access more widespread, with faster speeds and at lower cost. Social media innovations have created models for peer content creation for instructional online courses to economically build socio-economic capacity.

Project Location:

Dillon is the Ideal Location:

The broad local support, available land in a prime location, strategic partners (listed below,) and role of Dillon as a showcase for how cherished rural Montanan lifestyles can be sustained through rural broadband jobs and innovations combine to make Dillon the best choice for this Center of Excellence.

Ideal Project Outcomes:

Ideally, a Phase one initial virtual demonstration project will validate the potential, followed by building a multi-purpose community training center suitable for conventions and large gatherings with a virtual and on-site  "e-commerce and telework incubator."

An ideal outcome of this study will be the impetus for creating a statewide model for digital inclusion by acknowledging and leveraging the boom in Montana's bottom-up innovations such as successful e-commerce and telework job creation and original online peer-generated content.


The Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families offers an elegant grassroots peer-mentoring platform that maintains an efficient clearinghouse of the best skills transfer, instructional videos, resources, and friendly mentors. Montanans will quickly gain the self-sufficiency skills for online searching, self-directed learning, and creating online content to benefit themselves and others in meeting their specific needs, locally and statewide. Emphasis will be on creation of new jobs and socio-economic capacity for the information economy.


Due to Montana’s growing rural broadband connectivity it is becoming more feasible to quickly grow an entrepreneurial culture among Montanan youth with emphasis on stemming youth outmigration and creating more stable and sustainable local rural economies.


Montana’s educational “digital best practices” strategies will prepare students to be globally competitive in the 21st century by including such topics as global awareness, civic literacy, health and wellness awareness, and financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy. 


Additional Details:

Grant Maker:

l  Big Sky Trust Fund




l  $20,000 planning grant,  4 months duration  

Matching Funds:


  $10,000 as follows:

·       TBD

·       TBD

·       TBD 

Grant Recipient:

  Headwaters RC&D, Butte, Lisa Wheeler, Email: lwheeler@bigskyhsd.com,  PH: 406 782 7333 ext 302



Frank Odasz, president of Lone Eagle Consulting will be the Sub-recipient responsible for all research, input from strategic partners and completion of the final report.

Frank Odasz, Lone Eagles Consulting, frank@lone-eagles.com  PH: 406 683 6270

Course of Action:

Upon receipt of the grant, all strategic partners will be engaged to determine their roles and needs for the center, and research will begin to determine feasibility of the listed key categories.

Project Timeline

Four months from the date of the grant aware. A printed report will be the deliverable.

Management Plan (see above)

Total Project Cost Breakdown

EST. Requesting $20,000 at $5,000/month with $2,500/month in-kind matching for research, meetings, and the final written report by Frank Odasz, President of Lone Eagle Consulting.


Current proposed match pending cash match support from Ron Swenson, YMCA, Beaverhead Development Corporation, Bresnan Communications, Rocky Mountain Supercomputer, IBM and/or others.

Project Budget form


Community Support, include Supporting Documentation

Local Partners

  Beaverhead Development Corporation, Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce, Melissa Hannah, info@beaverheaddevelopment.org, 683 5511

  YMCA, Roger Pelletier, Exec. Dir.   Email: roger-dillonymca@qwestoffice.org  PH: 683 9622

  Blacktail Meadows Independent Living

  City Council -- Tom Straugh,  (UMW Career Services), Email: t_straugh@umwestern.edu

  County Commissioner, Mike McGinley, Email: mmcginley@co.beaverhead.mt.us  PH: 406 683 3751


Education and Youth Entrepreneurship Partners

  Global Challenge

  Green Earth Corps, MSOSW, through SolarQuest and Univ of North Texas, $1.5m NSF grant


Technology Partners

 Rocky Mountain Supercomputer, Alex Philip, chair, Email aphilp@gcs-research.com

Earl Dodd, IBM Deep Computing, Houston, Email: earldodd@us.ibm.com, PH: 713 940 1494

 ISP, Bresnan Communications


Dillon Center Partners  

l  Ron Swenson, SolarQuest, rbs@ecotopia.com , ph: 408 332 5375

l  Others in Dillon, as above.



l  Steve Hannah, Barrett Hospital Administrator, Email: shannah@barretthospital.org PH: 683 3000

l  Lisa Benzel, South Central Montana AHEC, Email: lisa@mtha.org  PH: 683 2790

l  Nandi Harrington, Barrett Hospital Foundation director Email: foundation@barretthospital.org




·       Montana Superintendent of Schools-elect, Denise Juneau


University: UM Western

m Dr. Richard Storey, UMW Chancellor Email:  r_storey@umwestern.edu  

m Karl Ulrich, UMW Vice-Chancellor Email: k_ulrich@umwestern.edu

m Cecil Jones, UMW, Chair of Business dept. Email:  c_jones1@umwestern.edu

m Anneliese Ripley, Director of Community Outreach, UMW, Email: a_ripley@umwestern.edu  PH: 683 7537



l  Sen. Tester

l  Sen. Baucus


Dillon Citizens 

l  Tom Wagenknecht, Solar Energy, Citizen,  twagenknecht@peoplepc.com  PH:406 596 1251

l  Norma Jean Duffy, Graphic arts, Citizen, email: hideawaycove@gmail.com, PH: 406 925 0730









New Big Sky Telegraph site for the Dillon Center


·       http://www.BigSkyTelegraph.com/




Web sites

·       SolarQuest: www.solarquest.com

·       Green Earth Corps, Youth Energy Curriculum:  http://www.solarquest.us/content/green-earth-corps/

·       Renewable Nations, International Education program: www.renewablenations.com

·       SolarQuest's Pedagogy, Productivity-Centered Service Learning:  http://galapagos.solarquest.com/schoolhouse/attachments/2356/4223/9188/ALLAN_E_BAER_ENGLISH_VF2.pdf


MSOSW: Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World

Project Overview
This project seeks to focus pre-teen enthusiasm for activity in the direction of solving real world problems, while also promoting knowledge of and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A collaboration among the University of North Texas, SolarQuest Educational Foundation Inc., and The Global Challenge Award program proposes a new middle school ITEST project focused on children using energy monitoring equipment in diverse home and community settings. Student-gathered data will be used to build accurate, scientifically important models of energy consumption in communities – under the guidance of teachers. Online and in-classroom communications, as well as cyber-infrastructure tools such as telecommunications, data warehousing systems, visualization applications, and web site distributions, will be used to help sixth grade students understand the relationship between energy, economics and climate change. Long term interest in STEM-related careers will be established in the process....