CHARLEMONT — Now that the town has received its $960,000 Last Mile broadband grant from the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, a pole survey will be conducted around town, beginning on Tuesday, Aug.
22. Bob Handsaker, chairman of the town’s Broadband Committee, told the Selectboard this week that a meeting will take place that day. Broadband Committee members and a designer from Westfield Gas & Electric will drive through town to look at problem spots and discuss where to put the hut that is to house the town’s broadband equipment. Handsaker said a 10-by-15-foot equipment hut would be ideal; it must be dry and weatherized, able to include an air-conditioner and possible a back-up generator during power outages. Town officials are considering possible sites near the Town Hall or in the Town Hall basement, in front of the Fire Station, or up at the Charlemont Fairgrounds.
The pole survey involves a survey crew driving to each utility pole in Charlemont and taking measurements and photos. Also, the survey crew will take measurements to estimate the distance from the closest pole to each home. Surveyors will be mapping all the utility routes, measuring the poles and distance between poles. Also, buildings served by underground utilities will be noted in the pole survey. The results of this survey will be used by Westfield Gas & Electric to design a network that can be used for a competitive bid process for this major infrastructure.
It will also give the town a clearer idea of the full cost of the network. No town taxes will be spent during this design and bid phase. Having a home or business included in this pole survey does not obligate anyone to take the future broadband service. Residents who don’t want their home or business surveyed can call town officials and ask that their property be skipped. But if their property is excluded from the survey, they may not be able to sign up for service during the initial sign-up period.
Also, extending service to locations later will cost property owners more money, or it may not be possible to include them after the initial work has been completed.
Residents with questions may call Town Administrator Peg Dean at 339-4335, ext.
8 or Bob Handsaker 339-0232.
County received 679 responses
COLUMBUS – A survey asking Polk County residents about their current broadband service received 679 responses with the survey closing on July 31.
The survey had been available since June 1.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Aug.
7 and heard from MIS director Bruce Yelton.
Yelton said the county’s responses included 644 online and 35 handwritten.
The county is in the process of analyzing the data so they can get the information out to broadband providers.
“Hopefully we can get some interest in expanding our coverage,” Yelton said.
County manager Marche Pittman asked how long it will take to get the data together.
Yelton said David Weisgerber, GISP should have it together in the next couple of weeks.
Pittman said he thinks it would be good to show broadband providers how important commissioners see broadband for the citizens of the county. He said he’d check with other counties to see how they’ve handled getting better service, but he thinks the county should hold a work session.
Commissioner vice chair Jake Johnson said he’d like to see broadband providers come and sit down for a roundtable session with commissioners.
Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked Yelton how the county advertised the survey.
Yelton said the county put word out on Facebook, the county’s website and had brochures throughout the county.
He said the people who are happy with their service likely didn’t fill out a survey.
Pittman said most of the poor service is out in the county. The towns of Columbus and Tryon and City of Saluda likely have decent service, Pittman said.
“So 600-something (surveys) isn’t a low number,” Pittman said.
Pittman said the data should be ready by the end of the month and suggested the county schedule a meeting with providers in September.
Commissioners set up a broadband committee last year and after several meetings the committee came up with questions to identify broadband needs of the county.
The survey asked, among other things, if residents had internet access and if they feel it is adequate.
The committee was established after residents expressed concerns about having little to no internet access, particularly in the unincorporated parts of the county.
Polk County is working with Keith Conover, technical assistance director for the western region of the N.C.
Department of Commerce, who will help coordinate a meeting with broadband providers in the area and provide a map of service in the county.