Office of the Broadband Committee

Town of Halifax

PO Box 127

West Halifax, Vermont 05358


Meeting Minutes

Draft: April 26, 2022


Date: Monday, March 21, 2022, 7-8:30PM


Place: Conference Call


Attending: Committee members: Tristan Roberts, Stephan Chait, David Jones

Visitors: Doug and Marilou Parkhurst 

Notes By: David Jones


Call to Order


Tristan Roberts called the meeting to order at 7:01 PM.  


Changes and Additions to Agenda




Review and Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes


Stephan Chait moved to accept the minutes of the December 20 meeting as written.  Tristan Roberts seconded the motion. All present agreed. The minutes were approved. 


Old Business



DVFiber status report

ARPA funding discussion 


Communications survey input

Site survey proposal


DVFiber Status Report


David Jones reported that DVFiber continues to sign contracts with GWI to complete its full contractual agreement. GWI continues to perform the design work funded by the pre-construction grant from the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB). At the most recent Governing Board meeting, the key discussions were administrative, including approvals of formal committee charters and discussion of a draft customer connection policy. The policy will make clear the responsibilities of DVFiber and the customer to complete a customer connection, also known as an installation.  The Operations Committee was asked to revise the drat policy it presented to reflect the input provided by the Board.  The Board also discussed strategies for making DVFiber services affordable to customers and programs to make this a reality.  Equal Access to Broadband, an organization founded by ECFiber, has developed methods for getting customers enrolled in federal subsidy programs. DVFiber expects to emulate these methods. The federal programs focus on ongoing costs; DVFiber will focus further attention on one-time costs to get connected.


Stephan noted that DVFiber has been searching for a depot in which to store incoming fiber optic cable that is on order. Equipment required to make the network operational is in short supply and getting more expensive due to extensive federal stimulus for broadband construction, so attention is being given to advance orders.  


David added that considerable attention is being given to the application to the VCBB for construction grant funds.


Tristan said that details about connection requirements will be very important to customers.


ARPA Funding Discussion


The Committee discussed the possible ways in which ARPA funds could be used to support broadband construction. Lending to DVFiber and funding installations in Halifax are two options we discussed previously.


Stephan Chait said the range of potential uses for the funds has broadened and competition for the funds will be robust.  An upcoming April 29 meeting will gather suggestions about potential uses for ARPA funds.  David said that in Whitingham, the town may have other, higher priorities, notable upgrades to  the Jacksonville sewer plant.  Stephan said roads are probably a high priority in Halifax. He said we should listen to other suggestions for uses of the funds and determine then whether a case could be made for broadband uses.  Tristan agreed.


David reported that an earlier proposal advanced by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) in which ARPA funds would be loaned to finance letters of credit for CUDs to use for materials purchases was never developed by the VLCT or the VCBB and will not be pursued.  But it is permissible for ARPA recipients to loan the funds to finance permissible uses of the funds. Lending to enable equipment preorders by DVFiber could be a good use of the funds. Stephan asked what amount is needed for equipment preorders. David said it was an order of magnitude larger than the amount Halifax will have available. David said similar loans from other towns would be needed to cover the immediate need.


Tristan noted that we could ask the town to focus on affordability. David said we could suggest the amount that was likely to be needed but Equal Access to Broadband and DVFiber have not worked out a complete program for administrating and distributing funds raised for improving affordability. David said that a survey performed in Marlboro suggests that Halifax would need as much as $161K. Tristan agreed that we would need a program in order to advance a credible proposal.  The committee agreed that we would propose a fraction of this, $50K, as a meaningful amount but would defer to other credible proposals. David agreed to be the presenter.


New Business


Communications Survey Input 


Tristan said the Selectboard is concerned about townwide communications. He proposed to the Selectboard a survey to determine needs and preferences. The idea is to learn more about what methods of communication from the town to residents would be most helpful. He asked if the survey could help DVFiber. 


Stephan said he recalled Paul Blais was about to conduct an emergency management survey. Could we build on that?  Tristan said he was coordinating with Paul but that Paul had noted that response rates to emergency response surveys are typically low. 


David recalled that a team had been collecting email addresses at the 2019 Town Meeting in order to build a town directory. He wondered what happened to that effort.  Stephan said Penfield Chester and Laura Copeland had worked on this but he was not sure of the result. 


David recalled that we got a very high response rate on the Windham Regional Commission survey but this was somewhere between 20 and 40 percent after we worked really, really hard to maximize the response.  A survey might determine needs and ideas but would not establish a line of communication to the majority of residents.


Site Survey Proposal


David had considered proposing that the committee should survey properties in town to determine customer connection requirements in a manner similar to Marlboro but that DVFiber now expects to do this professionally, so no proposal is necessary.  We will reserve our energy for raising awareness and getting subscriptions when the service becomes available here.


Oher Business




Hearing of Visitors






Stephan moved the meeting should adjourn.  David seconded the motion. All present agreed.  The meeting was adjourned at 7:49PM.