Hilltown Voices: Broadband network largest infrastructure project in Plainfield’s history

  • Worthington Town Hall  FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 6/25/2019 1:40:06 PM

PLAINFIELD – The Town of Plainfield will begin construction of a world-class fiber-optic broadband network on July 15, making it the largest infrastructure project the town has ever seen. 

This $2.8 million dollar project will bring reliable gigabit Internet and telephone service to every home and business in town that subscribes for service.

The project is funded by Plainfield taxpayers and a $650,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development’s “Last Mile” Broadband program.

Like other Hilltowns that have had to endure what Kimberly Longey, manager of the Plainfield municipal light plant, has called the "digital divide," Plainfield has been working at obtaining broadband for 13 years.

After years of effort to build a regional network ran into roadblocks, Plainfield partnered with Westfield Gas and Electric/Whip City Fiber in 2017, to design and engineer a stand-alone network. 

 “Plainfield is building this network to ensure the very survivability of our town," Longey said. "Without broadband, we’ve lost population and business owners struggle to compete."

A lack of broadband service has also made it difficult for students to study and for others to work from home.

According to Longey, all homes should be connected by early 2020.

At present, 213 customers out of the town's potential 360 customers have signed up for service. Another 43 residents have signed up to make their home “Internet ready” by bringing the fiber to the outside of the home, but not activating service right away.

The annual network operating costs, including the costs of maintenance, insurance, and repairs, will be covered by the $85 monthly Internet subscription fee.

Howard Bronstein, chairman of the Plainfield Select Board, said that the town is paying 100 percent of the costs to connect all homes to the network, as long as households sign up while construction is going on.

 "We encourage every Plainfielder to sign up and we need to know by June 30th if you want to be included in the project,” Bronstein said.

Home-based businesses with up to five Internet users are included in the town’s residential installation policy. Larger businesses can receive a custom proposal for service and installation pricing.

Applications must be submitted to Whip City Fiber. There are no upfront costs, deposits, or service contracts required for residential service. Residents can apply online at whipcityfiber.com/plainfield or by calling 833-923-2255.

For more information about the project visit Plainfield’s broadband webpage at https://plainfield-ma.us/broadband.  

Celebrating Founders Day

WORTHINGTON – Residents of Worthington will celebrate the founding of Worthington with food, music, history, and fun on Saturday, June 29.

The event will take place on the lawn next to Town Hall on Huntington Road and will include a happy hour beginning at 5 p.m., a community-wide pot-luck dinner at 6:30. p.m. and live music provided by Pete McLean’s Old Country Road and Friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with socializing until 11 p.m.

The Worthington Historical Society will also host a historic walking tour of Worthington Center. The tour is free and will begin in front of the Congregational Church at 3:30 p.m.

Last year, the town celebrated its 250th anniversary in a similar manner and the event was a huge hit with residents.

“We had over 400 people there and all we’ve heard since is ‘Can we do it again?’” Select Board Chairman Charley Rose said. "So we’re starting what we hope will be a new tradition as we celebrate the founding of Worthington each year at the end of June.”

Sign-up sheets for the pot-luck dinner are available at Corners Grocery, the Worthington Library, the R.H. Conwell School, the Maples, the Worthington Town Hall, and the Worthington Congregational Church. For more information call Peg O'Neal at 238-5577 ext.100

Special town election

GOSHEN – There will be a special town election on July 15 to fill an open a seat on the Goshen Select Board with a term ending in May 2020.

Kristine A. Bissell is running unopposed.

Absentee voting is now available in the town clerk’s office. Eligible absentee voters are those who will not be in town on election day, or cannot vote in person due to physical disability or religious beliefs.

Please contact the town clerk with any questions at 268-8236 xt. 107 or clerk@goshen-ma.us. The office is open Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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

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