OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
April 2, 2013
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 1:34pm at the Halifax town office. Halifax Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Earl Holtz, and Lewis Sumner. Others present were Jessica Bruno, Chris Mays, Rob Fish (Digital Economy Nonprofit Advisor and Community Organizer), Caitlin Lovegrove (Digital Economy Network and Outreach Organizer), and Sharon Combes-Farr (Director Vermont Digital Economy Project).
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Vermont Digital Economy Project for which Halifax was selected to be a participant. Sharon Combes-Farr, director of the Vermont Digital Economy Project noted that they received applications from Halifax, Wilmington, Brattleboro, Marlboro and Guilford. Wilmington and Halifax were given priority given the size of their communities and the impact from the storms. Neighboring towns may be visited in the future. The Vermont Digital Economy Project is funded by the Economic Development Association through a Federal disaster relief grant. They are partnering with VT Council on Rural Development, Snelling Center for Government, VT Small Business Development Center, and Front Porch Forums. The grant window is 18 months (Jan 17, 2013 through mid July 2014).
There was a discussion concerning how Irene impacted the town, communications during the disaster, how volunteers were coordinated, and use of the press and website.
Next, the group discussed the main employers in town and gave an overview of the workforce in the community. The group discussed the types of potential workshops for business owners and possible locations for workshops. A list of local businesses and non-profit groups was given to Rob Fish, Digital Economy non-profit advisor and community organizer. Combes-Farr will contact the Whitingham Free Public Library to see if they can hold workshops there. She will also follow up and see if the interns from the Brattleboro digital literacy project would be available to service Halifax.
Caitlin Lovegrove will be the point of contact for Wi-Fi zones and hot spots. She noted that a zone may not be the ideal for Halifax, but certainly a hotspot in one or two key locations may be very beneficial for the town. A hotspot has its own equipment that would be provided by the grant, but we would be responsible for the costs to keep it up and monitor it. It would most likely require a DSL business connection which is the town’s responsibility to finance. The hotspot has its own connection and would not impact the town office line. The group discussed potential places to host the hotspot- the town office and firehouse were discussed. We will need to wait and see where the service will be in order to determine the best place to host it. The Broadband Committee will discuss potential sites as well as the potential to have an indoor staffed area to allow people to come inside to use the Wi-Fi.
The group discussed Front Porch Forum and how this could be a useful tool for community members to discuss topics. This will also allow for the possibility of an integrated calendar for our various town groups including the school.
The Snelling Center for Government will be in contact with Bruno to discuss website content and layout. They will discuss what’s working/ not working and ways to improve the site.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10pm.