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Worthington voters begrudgingly opt for Comcast internet service



For the Gazette
Saturday, May 05, 2018

WORTHINGTON — Gathered under a giant tent in the parking lot of the R. H. Conwell School on Saturday, voters selected Comcast to provide high-speed internet service to the town.

One of three options presented in three separate articles, Comcast will provide a hybrid cable/broadband network paid for by the town’s portion of MBI grant money plus another million dollars from state.

Estimated cost for customers of the Comcast Service is between $60-$93 a month.

According to Municipal Light Board member Bart Niswonger, the completion of the network will likely take between 18 to 24 months.

The Comcast vote, or Article 5, passed by a majority vote, after the first two options failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority they needed to pass.

Articles 3 and 4 required a two-thirds majority vote as they both necessitated the town to borrow money to pay for the building of a network.

Article 3 included appropriating $2.1 million for a high-speed broadband network that the town, would design, construct, install and own.

Estimated cost to the customer would have been $112 per month.

Many spoke in favor of this option, saying that they believed that it would be good for the town to be able to have control over all aspects on their internet services.

However, this article failed with 108 in favor and 98 against.

A second option, Article 4, called for $1 million to pay for the town’s share of the cost of designing, constructing and installing a high-speed broadband network in conjunction with Matrix Millennium, the company that would own and operate the network.

After three year, the town would have had an option to buy the network, with the purchase price going down significantly each year thereafter.

Those who favored town control of their internet services urged voters to support this second option, as a good compromise between outright ownership from the get-go and choosing a large corporate company like Comcast for internet service.

Estimated cost to the customer would have been $125 a month.

This article failed as well, with 133 in favor and 68 against.

With the two majority favorites out of the running, many voters said that the Comcast option was better than having nothing at all and supported the final option they had.

“I am kind of sad,” said Kate Ewald of Harvey Road. “ I did have another preference, but I think that a lot of people in town can’t afford it, and I understand that,” she added. “We need high-speed internet one way or another; in the end, I guess I’m good with it.”

Voters also approved spending $210,000 to purchase a 2018 Freightliner 10-wheeler to replace a 2007 International Plow Truck, and $43,050 for asbestos abatement and demolition of the Moran Property on Huntington Road, and a fiscal 2019 budget of $3.05 million, up by $179,259 from fiscal 2018’s $2.88 million.

206 of Worthington’s 955 registered voters turned out for Saturday’s meeting.

Town election

There were two races on the ballot for Saturday’s election.

Incumbent Charles Rose was re-elected to a three-year term on the Select Board with 195 votes, defeating a challenge by Jeffrey Cranston, 23 East Windsor Road, who received 43 votes.

The results of a three-way race for two, three-year term seats on the Worthington School Committee were Susan Warner, 703 Huntington Road, 135 votes; Pamela Thompson, 42 Conwell Road, 106 votes; and Cai Walkowial, 17 Old North Road, 84 votes.

Melinda Rose received two votes as a write-in candidate for a three-year term on the Finance Committee. Town Clerk Katrin Kaminsky said that Rose was contacted and said she will accept the position.