May 8, 2013 minutes
The Halifax Broadband Committee met at the Town Office on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, called to order at 6:30 p.m. Present were committee members Jessica Bruno (chairman pro tem), Curtis Carroll, Earl Holtz, and Gretchen Becker.
Holtz made a motion to approve the minutes of the Feb 13, 2013 meeting. Carroll seconded the motion, and the minutes were approved unanimously as read 3-0-0.
Bruno made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 14, 2013 meeting as corrected. Holtz seconded the motion, and the minutes were unanimously approved as corrected 3-0-0.
Bruno reported on the Vermont Digital Economy Project and discussed the town Web page. She said that Weebly, used to create the website, can automatically link to Facebook, so it would be useful to have a town Facebook page as well as the website so people would get updates about new postings/news. She will ask Bob Teree, who owns the unofficial Halifax Facebook page, if he would like to give her access to posting on that page, or will alternately consider whether the town should create a new Facebook page for the town.
The town website is not used as much as it could be used, and Holtz suggested providing the URL along with the tax bills and a blurb encouraging the public to check out the improved site. The consensus was that this was a good idea.
Bruno discussed the possibility of an Internet Hotspot in the town, as proposed by Caitlin Lovegrove, the primary contact for the VT Digital Economy Project. Lovegrove raised several issues:
Who would be the “fiscal sponsor” for such a hotspot, and who would fund its maintenance? Committee members said they couldn’t make a decision until they knew who would be providing this service and what the fees would be, as they could range from about $25 a month if Fairpoint provided service to $3000 a month through SoverNet. The consensus was that the town would probably have to support it, as it’s unlikely a local business or nonprofit would take on that responsibility.
Lovegrove asked for the names of contact persons in the Broadband Committee, Historical Society, Community Club, Fire Company, and administrator of the Halifax Facebook page, and these will be provided.
She asked if the town would like to use a free template as a “landing page” for the hotspot. This idea was informally rejected as their templates are designed for larger towns that get a lot of tourism. The Committee agreed that the town website could be used as the landing page.
She asked if there would be open hours at the Town Office, if the hotspot were located there, and who would staff it. It was agreed this would be nice, as well as the idea of having computers available for people to use, but it might be difficult to find volunteers to staff the open hours. The question of liability was raised. If someone used the hotspot for illegal activity, would the town be liable? Lovegrove will be asked about this.
Several people noted that progress seemed to be going on with fiber optic cable being strung, although no one was sure exactly which company was in charge of the work.
Carroll reported that the Twin Valley high school now has fiber optic cable, but speeds are only 50 megabits/second instead of the promised 100. They are trying to fix this problem.
The committee approved a procedure for the posting of news and communications on the town Web site. This will go to the selectmen for approval.
A brief summary of a new mobile app called goCrop, aimed at Vermont’s livestock farmers, was provided.
It was announced that Tess Gauthier from the Snelling Center for Government was coming Friday, May 10, at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the town website as part of the VT Digital Economy Project.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:56 p.m.
Secretary pro tem