China will not receive ConnectMe grant

by Mary Grow

The China Broadband Committee (CBC) did not get a state ConnectMe grant that members had hoped to use to hire Hawkeye Connections, Inc., of Poland, Maine, to establish the cost of new broadband infrastructure for the town.

Meeting the afternoon of June 23, committee members and consultants who had watched part of the state meeting that morning agreed they had not heard China on the list of towns receiving grants.

CBC members had asked for $7,500, to be matched with $2,500 from town Tax Increment Financing funds. Their goal was to have Hawkeye engineers give them a firm figure for construction costs.

There was consensus no other possible grant could provide funds soon enough so that Hawkeye engineers could survey the town in July and the committee could report costs to the selectboard in August. Other possible sources of an immediate $10,000 were discussed, including asking the selectmen for money from the contingency fund voters approved at the June 8 town meeting.

The China Broadband Committee invites all residents to a public meeting to learn about the proposed broadband expansion in town. The meeting will be at 4 p.m., Sunday, July 11, in the China Middle School gymnasium. Committee members and consultants plan a short presentation followed by a question and answer session.

On June 25, committee member Jamie Pitney emailed that Ronald Breton, Chairman of the China Selectboard, agreed to add a request for $10,000 from contingency to the July 6 selectmen’s agenda, if committee members submit one.

The same day, Mark Ouellette, President of Axiom Technologies, the company CBC members plan to have as internet provider, reported that Hawkeye engineers plan to do a detailed survey that would result in a firm construction-cost estimate; but, he said, the work will take two months, not the one month CBC members had planned on.

CBC members plan to ask selectmen to put a construction bond issue on the Nov. 2 local ballot. Pitney said they should have information to the selectmen by July 29, in preparation for discussion at the Aug. 2 selectmen’s meeting.

The committee has discussed rough estimates of potential construction costs. Given the uncertainty, and, Pitney added, fluctuating costs of materials, members decided they had no “ceiling” figure they could use as they explain their proposal to town residents and officials.

The other major action at the June 23 meeting was a final review of the informational flyer the committee will distribute as widely as possible, to ensure residents are aware of their plan and have opportunities to get more information.

The next CBC meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, July 1.


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