Hilltown Voices: Goshen receives $770,000 Last Mile Grant for broadband

For the Gazette
Monday, October 16, 2017

GOSHEN — The Baker-Polito administration’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has awarded Goshen a $770,000 Last Mile Infrastructure Grant to design, engineer and construct a municipally-owned, broadband network.

“The citizens of Goshen have worked very hard to make their goal of a town-owned fiber broadband network a reality, and I am very pleased that they are receiving their full state funding allocation to move the project forward,” said state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.

The award is part of $20 million in capital funds made available to the Last Mile towns. To date, the Last Mile program has been able to help 12,000 homes across 21 towns with almost $18 million in grants.

According to Goshen’s WiredWest delegate Bob Labrie, access to broadband has been a long time coming.

“It’s been over nine years since former Governor Deval Patrick sat on the steps of the Goshen Town Hall to sign the Broadband Act, which created the Massachusetts Broadband Institute,” Labrie said, noting that he was grateful to support that has come from the town’s Select Board and Finance Committee. “Without it, there would be no end in sight to our current DSL dilemma.”

Now that funding is available, Westfield Gas & Electric will design and build the town’s fiber-to-the home network. The first step in that process will be to conduct individual surveys of the approximately 1,400 utility poles in town to determine which poles can support the addition of fiber-optic cable.

“I, for one, am happy to be in one of the 13 towns that have signed an agreement with WG&E to move forward with this project,” Labrie said.

While there is still a lot of work to do, when the project is completed, over 96 percent of homes and businesses in town will have broadband service.

“Expanding broadband connectivity in towns like Goshen is important to meeting the demands and needs of local businesses, residents, students and families, while providing opportunities to succeed and grow,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.

Kulik said that the grant ensures that this small rural town will have the same opportunities that are available in other parts of the commonwealth.

“I congratulate Goshen on its efforts, and look forward to successful completion of the project,” Kulik said.

Getting the picture

PLAINFIELD — Pleun Bouricius, of AgathaO, will offer a mini-workshop for non-photographers on “getting the pictures you want, into and out of, your camera” on Oct. 21.

The workshop is intended for people who like using their camera and/or posting pictures on social media, but who get lost in the photo lingo of f-stops and lens sizes.

Bouricius will spend the first half-hour talking about cameras. The group will then head outside for an hour-long photography stroll before regrouping for a final discussion.

Participants can bring any camera or smartphone as well as questions they may have about the camera, its operation or photography. People with questions specific to their cameras are encouraged to bring the camera’s instructions.

Attendees are advised to dress appropriately and anticipate walking on somewhat uneven, though not too challenging, terrain.

This event is free and open to the public and will be at the Shaw Memorial Library, at 312 Main St., from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The rain/snow date will be Oct. 28.

For more information, contact pleunbouricius@gmail.com or visit AgathaO.com.

Auction and dinner

CUMMINGTON — The community is invited to the West Cummington Congregational Church, located at 27 West Main St., for its 16th annual auction and dinner on Oct. 21.

Alice Cozzolino of the Old Creamery will prepare a “souper supper” for the event, which will include vegetable and cheese platters followed by a choice of hearty vegetarian, vegan and non-vegetarian soups accompanied by a selection of breads.

This has been a popular event every year and, as only 90 dinner tickets are for sale, organizers suggest that people get theirs early.

Dinner tickets cost $15. Proceeds from the auction will go toward supporting all the programs and activities of the church. Registration for the auction will begin at 4:30 p.m., and dinner will be served at 5:40 p.m. The auction will begin at 7 p.m.

To pre-register for bidding or to buy dinner tickets, contact Sylvia Snape at 345-0566 or via sylvia.snape@gmail.com.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.