Selectmen seek letters supporting high-speed Internet
BUCKLAND — Selectmen’s Chairwoman Cheryl L. Dukes wants to bring a bundle of letters to Boston from Franklin County residents to support Internet access for underserved western towns.
She will testify at a legislative hearing Sept. 18 on a bill to raise money for information technology.
The bill includes $40 million to build “final mile” infrastructure, but four Franklin County towns — Buckland, Shelburne, Conway and Northfield — could be left out of that funding because they have partial high-speed access through Comcast cable.
When area legislators were asked what these local towns could do to enhance the chances that unserved parts of their towns could get “wired,” legislators advised them to come to the Boston hearing or to at least write letters of support. They said legislators in the more populated eastern part of the state — where Internet access is not a problem — need to understand the impact that lack of high-speed access can have on rural communities in terms of economic development, educational opportunities, health and public safety issues and even property values.
Dukes is hoping to bring letters to the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets at the Sept. 18 hearing, which takes place at 11 a.m. in Hearing Room B-1 in the Boston Statehouse.
The full Board of Selectmen agreed to head a letter-writing campaign for high-speed Internet access, and are accepting letters of support from any town.
Deadline: Sept. 16
The letters may be sent to Town Administrator Andrea Llamas at: Buckland Town Hall, 17 State St., Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. To be included, they must be received by 4 p.m. on Sept. 16. The letters may also be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selectmen ask that the letters be addressed to the House and Senate committee chairmen:
The Honorable Antonio Cabral of the House Committee, and The Honorable Brian Joyce of the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.
Recommended topics to include might be:
∎ Online access to education for homework assignments, long-distance learning or research.
∎ Public safety and emergency responder issues.
∎ Economic and business development and support, including workforce training development.
Also, to bolster the town’s efforts to put into place the infrastructure for high-speed Internet, Selectmen Tuesday night voted to form an Ad Hoc Internet Access Committee that will advise selectmen and the town on “all aspects of increasing Internet access” to residents — especially in areas without broadband.
The committee will include the town administrator, a selectman, a Finance Committee member, Cable Advisory Committee member Glen Cardinal and up to three town residents. Its mission is to “provide a focal point for the planning and implementation” of increased Internet access.