China Broadband Committee discusses ways to distribute fact sheet

by Mary Grow

China Broadband Committee (CBC) members spent most of their June 17 meeting discussing ways to distribute a flyer publicizing their plans for expanded and improved broadband service in town.

The draft one-page handout introduces the proposal and invites interested residents to sign up for follow-up information via email.

Board members scheduled a public informational meeting for 4 p.m., Sunday, July 11, at a location to be determined. They hope it will be both an in-person and a virtual meeting, to allow everyone interested to participate one way or the other.

Before and after July 11 they plan to make the flyer available everywhere they can think of – as part of the informational mailings from the town office, included with the tax bills, as an insert in The Town Line, distributed at any organization meeting, church or fire department or community event that will accept copies, perhaps handed out at local businesses if allowed.

Committee members’ schedule calls for presenting a proposed referendum question asking selectmen to approve a bond issue to one of the first two August selectboard meetings, which should be Aug. 2 and Aug. 16. If selectmen approve putting the question on the Nov. 2 local ballot, voters will decide whether to borrow funds to build new internet infrastructure.

The amount to be borrowed is not yet known. Committee members applied for a state planning grant to hire Hawkeye Connections, of Poland, Maine, to evaluate existing infrastructure — telephone poles, for example — and determine construction costs.

Marc Ouellette, President of Axiom Technologies, the CBC members’ choice to provide broadband service, expects grant awards will be announced Wednesday morning, June 23. After discussion of members’ conflicting commitments, the next CBC meeting was scheduled for 3 p.m., Wednesday, June 23. It will be virtual, live-streamed.

CBC members applied for a $7,500 state grant, to be matched by $2,500 in local funds. The local funds are expected to come from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund, which as of the June 8 town meeting includes expanded broadband service as an allowable expenditure.


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