Broadband Committee

Town of Halifax, Vermont



July 21, 2014


A quorum of the Broadband Committee was present at part of the regular Selectboard meeting on July 21, 2014. Broadband members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Jessica Bruno, and Gretchen Becker. They attended in order to participate in the discussions on cell service for the Rte 112 corridor, and the business broadband improvement district project for the Thomas Hill area. See the Selectboard meeting minutes below for more details. Becker and Bruno left the meeting at 8:19 am.


Town of Halifax, Vermont

July 21, 2014

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m. Selectboard members present were Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards, and Earl Holtz. Also present were Robbin Gabriel, Brad Rafus, Gretchen Becker, Jessica Bruno, Charlene Martynowski, Patty Dow, Joe Tamburrino, Wayne Courser, and Laura Sumner.

Agenda Additions
Edee Edwards had two requests; that the morning’s agenda include a discussion/update on the VTA/BBID (Vermont Telecommunications Authority/Business Broadband Improvement District) status, and that the last new business item on the roster—cell service to the 112 corridor via VTA—be moved forward for the convenience of attendees present for the purpose of contributing to that discussion.

New Business

Cell Service to the 112 Corridor via VTA
The Board has received a cover letter and documentation packet from the Communications Resiliency Project regarding cell service to the Route 112 corridor. This is a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and developed through the VTA. The letter requests that the town attorney review the lease, with a subsequent meeting between the Project coordinators and the town to discuss the terms, so that any questions can be addressed at one time. Gretchen Becker, having read the lease thoroughly, pointed out some wording which might be open to interpretation. Edwards made a motion to ask Attorney Fisher to review the document, with particular attention to item #6. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. In other discussion, Lewis Sumner said the town has held the deed to the property on which the town garage is situated since the seventies, when the parcel was a gravel pit. Edwards mentioned the solar backup plan, which ties in with the cell service plan and needs to be finished before VTA can start work.

As a corollary to this conversation, Earl Holtz asked Brad Rafus when the containment vault for the fuel tank was expected to arrive. Rafus said the tank is complete and ready for delivery, but the salt shed roof should be in place before the vault is installed.

Thomas Hill Broadband
After polling a list of business owners in the Thomas Hill area and receiving a majority of “not interested” responses on the broadband topic, Edwards forwarded the survey results to VTA this week in time to meet their deadline. However, Becker has compiled a list with a larger number of potential businesses in the region, and it was agreed that she would provide VTA with the additional names on the chance that enough interested parties could be found to meet BBID requirements and bring the project to life.

Sign Road Commissioner’s Orders
The Road Commissioner’s orders were reviewed and signed.

Update on Tree Cutting on Amidon Road
Rafus now has two bids for the dead tree removal job on Amidon Road. The first was presented as an hourly rate: $130.00 an hour with time required to complete the task estimated at 20-24 hours. The second bid was a flat rate of $2,900 for the full job, including cleanup. A third contractor did not respond to the bid request. The two bids are very close, and both are under the $3,000 purchasing policy ceiling. Lewis Sumner made a motion to have Brad Rafus hire one of the two responding contractors to cut the dead trees on Amidon Road. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Update on Culvert Replacement on Reed Hill Road
Rafus is still waiting to hear from Todd Menees. Meanwhile he has spoken with a company able to place a sleeve, or insert, within the existing damaged culvert. If this less expensive temporary fix proves to be a permissible option, it might buy the town some time, Rafus said.

Specifications on One Ton Truck
Edwards had two questions for Rafus: Why red as a cab color? And what about backup cameras? The last two trucks purchased by the town have been red, Rafus explained, and while the color is mentioned in the specs as a preference, not a requirement, red is desirable in that it is more noticeable to oncoming traffic. White or dark-colored vehicles either do not catch the eye as readily or blend in with the surroundings. The backup camera has been included in the specifications; a two-position camera that allows the operator to view both the back of the truck and the sanding area simultaneously. The anticipated purchase will include a new plow, but the highway department already has the necessary sander. Edwards made a motion to have Brad Rafus solicit bids for a new one-ton, 4×4, truck. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, all were in agreement that the town would benefit financially by handling this transaction as a straight purchase with no trade-in. Rafus said one dealer he asked offered only $6,200 in trade-in on the white truck, including the plow. The tentative plan is to keep the white truck as a backup and pass the 1984 green truck on. Final decisions will be made after the new purchase has been completed.

Hearing of Visitors

Laura Sumner, who has held the Halifax Blue Plate these past few months, turned the meeting into a memorable occasion when she presented the plate to its next recipient, Town Clerk and Treasurer Patty Dow. Describing Dow as “a valued citizen of the Town of Halifax, who has served the town in many ways,” Laura passed on the award amidst smiles and applause. The Blue Plate Award was conceived after the town’s Hurricane Irene experience. Click the link on the home page of the town’s web site to read the story of the Blue Plate Award’s origins.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:48 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary