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December 4, 2012

Internet coming to France Park

County finds company to provide Internet service

A Kokomo-based Internet company says it will be able to bring WiFi service to France Park campers and its central office, Cass County commissioners learned at their meeting Monday.

Broadway Broadband has told county officials if they can find a tower, Internet service can be provided – a feat that other Internet service providers have not been able to accomplish for years now, said Cj Gilsinger, the county’s information technology director.

“We’ve been looking into this for a few years now, trying to find a source for high-speed Internet out at the park,” he said. “It’s been a real struggle. We’ve looked at several different companies, and no one can quite get it to where we need it.”

Gilsinger said the county has found a used tower that it can buy and it still must get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before erecting the tower in the spring.

“This will provide Internet to campers and the office,” Gilsinger said. “This company will be able to sell wireless Internet access to homes and businesses in the area, too.”

At the same meeting, the commissioners heard from Brian Holzhausen, president and director of D.IN.O., or Do INdiana Off-road, who was visiting from Indianapolis to improve the mapping of mountain bike trails at France Park.

Increased cost to ride at France Park along with a “challenging” relationship with previous park leaders and stronger competition from other parks around the state led to the decline of France Park’s popularity among mountain bike riders since its heyday in the 1990s, Holzhausen said.

“In the 90s, the people would come, camp, do the race,” he said of the annual triathlon and mountain bike race in August.

Holzhausen said France Park is unique for its cliffs, vertical features, views of the lake and more, and he thinks with the right moves, the park can draw more bikers.

“I think if it’s built for the purpose of mountain biking, and it’s promoted well, it’s affordable and the park is welcoming, I think it’s going to catch on, and you’ll have a lot of people coming to visit,” he said.

Lucas Beach, the park’s new superintendent, said he was hoping the improvements would draw large numbers of new people.

“They have so many ties with the trail runners, with off-road bicycles, with every aspect of outdoor sports,” Beach said. “We can easily start seeing double, triple, even more than that, bikers in the park if we get their support.”

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