May 9, 2012 Minutes
The Halifax Broadband Committee meeting was called to order at 6:35pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at the Halifax Town Office. Present were committee members Earl Holtz, Gretchen Becker, Curtis Carroll, Jessica Bruno, and Phyllis Evanuk. Members of the public present were Margo Avakian, Linda Lyon, Marilyn Allen, and Linda Hubner.
Becker moved and Carroll seconded that the minutes of the April 18, 2012 meeting be approved as written, and the motion passed 5-0-0.
We know that two providers are coming to Halifax- Sovernet and VTel. Carroll reported that according to the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, VTel is coming into Newfane, Westminster, Stratton & Wardsboro. They are beginning to fund this presently, but have not started construction yet. It’s promising that they are now getting started in southern Vermont towns.
A general discussion took place regarding WiFi, T-1 lines and types of broadband service. A recap of the funding sources and deadlines, costs of services, and the difficulty of getting information was discussed for the benefit of the new members of the public present.
Carroll reported that they recently found out that Sovernet will be hooking up Halifax when everyone else gets hooked up, around October/December 2012. Originally we thought that Halifax would be penalized for not signing the letter of intent for the FiberConnect project before the deadline by getting their service much later, but it appears this may not be the case. Carroll also reported that Sovernet has gone to the high school to map out lines.
Bruno printed a large format copy of the VTel WOW map which is hanging up in the town office meeting room. The map’s blue areas are areas served/funded by the VTel grant and should have wireless Internet service by the end of December 2013.
Becker proposed writing a letter to Ann Manwaring thanking her for her support. It was agreed this should be done, so Becker will draft a letter.
Bruno reported that Edee Edwards had sent over some useful information for us:
Stamford Co-op- a cooperative formed to deliver wireless broadband to residents who now has a grant to bring fiber to the home. Contact name Alan Clayson (ask Bruno for the phone number if interested in contacting him).
EC Fiber Connect consortium of 23 towns- continues to get funding commitments from people and is starting to roll out fiber. http://www.ecfiber.net/
Free webinars relative to municipal website development. One called Municipal Information Goes Online looks particularly relevant. http://evermontbroadband.org/test_site/blog/helpful-documents/ has the powerpoint slides. Other webinars can be found at http://e4vt.org/programs/e-vermont/newsevents/webinars
Holtz presented an article Becker sent him from Science Daily:
The article explains how putting a cap on data usage and thereby charging more when you reach your limit, can impact the way in which people use the Internet. Many of the households studied chose not to perform regular software updates in order to manage their cap, which can leave you vulnerable to viruses and other sorts of cyber attacks.
Cell phone service in town
We will concentrate on contacting cell phone service providers for next time in order to see what we can do to get improved service.
US Cellular- Holtz
Virgin Mobile- Becker
Holtz reported that getting the agendas and minutes up onto the website appears to be working well. Bruno reported that she was able to set up separate user and password log-ins for the existing modifiers of the town website.
The group discussed the possibility of making the following changes to the website:
Forms such as building permits or registration forms, dog licenses etc. Evanuk reported that many of these forms do not have electronic versions. Bruno mentioned that we can just scan them in as a pdf.
The auditors may have an electronic copy that got sent to the printers of the report.
-List of town appointments with their terms.
Bruno will check with Patty Dow for approval since this is part of her area as town clerk.
-Contact list for town officials/current holders of appointed positions
Bruno will check with Patty Dow to see if we have a current list. We will also need to make sure those on the list want their contact information on the website. If not, it was discussed that we could use the town office as contact point. Evanuk mentioned that some do not have Internet access or a computer and therefore no e-mail address.
-Town Hall or Community Center page
-Vermont Statutes http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutesmain.cfm
-Historical Society http://www.halifaxvthistory.org/
-Local Business- to be determined
-Whitingham Free Public Library www.readwithus.org/
-The flow of the website was also an issue brought up that should be addressed.
-The recreation/things to do page should be deleted.
Most of the places on that page are not in Halifax and some of the links lead to questionable content. It was agreed this should be done immediately. Bruno will take this page off the site.
Bruno proposed coming up with a set of procedures for website posting/deletions. It’s not clear who should be doing what. Currently, the three people which make modifications to the website are responsible for separate areas. This is fine, but some of the changes are broad and general. How do we decide which changes to make and who will make them? What authorization do we need to make these changes, if any? This will be on the next agenda.
Lyon suggested contacting the other members of the website committee to see if everyone really wants to be on it. She thought perhaps some may have felt pressured to be involved. She suggested that now might be a good time to canvass for people who have the time, knowledge, and willingness to take on some of this responsibility.
Hearing of Visitors
Lyon thanked the committee for sticking with the broadband issues and for the advances with the website. Now that she’s traveling it’s good to know she can go onto the website and see what’s going on and feel connected to the town.
Allen noted that she feels that there have been some really positive changes with changes in the Selectboard over the last few years, and changes to what information is out there etc. It really feels good.
Avakian noted that having attachments on Selectboard meeting minutes was great. For example, it’s especially helpful to be able to see a letter that was discussed, written and sent out.
Holtz moved and Carroll seconded to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 pm and the motion passed 5-0-0.