Edgecomb disappointed in broadband survey results

Posted:  Friday, March 15, 2019 - 8:15am

Edgecomb fell short of its goal of 50 survey responses for Phase 1 of a ConnectME broadband grant project, according to Janet Blevins, member of both the town’s website and the Lincoln County seven-town broadband committees.

Blevins updated Edgecomb selectmen March 11 after attending a meeting with an internet service provider. Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission hosted the earlier meeting. Blevins told selectmen three factors are needed for a town to succeed in improving broadband service: the support of the selectmen, a tech savvy person in the community, and a resident who can reach out to everyone in the town.

When the survey was announced in December, Edgecomb’s goal was 50 responses from businesses and people. According to Mary Ellen Barnes, executive director of LCRPC, 10 business responses and 23 residential responses were received from Edgecomb.

Blevins reported to selectmen that, with only 33 responses, there might not be enough information to continue. “The responses didn’t cover the small pockets that need broadband coverage,” she said.

Despite falling short of its goal, Edgecomb “remains part of our grant process,” Barnes said in an email to the Boothbay Register. There were no costs to the town to participate in the survey.

“Janet (Blevins) and the Selectmen ... will continue to be invited to meetings with internet service providers ... so that all the towns can hear about any plans to expand/upgrade service by the various ISPs and then figure out – likely town by town – what are some decent paths going forward,” the email continued.

Barnes said Phase 2 of the ConnectME grant will create engineering designs to address unserved and underserved areas and some financial modeling. The project is assisted by Axiom Technologies of Machias.

Selectmen’s Chair Jack Sarmanian suggested including a discussion of the town’s broadband coverage at the annual town meeting May 18.

In other news, Sarmanian announced that on March 8, the town signed the loan for the new fire truck, which is expected to be delivered within the next few weeks. Totaling $270,000, the loan has a five-year term at 3 percent. The first payment of $54,149 will be due March 8, 2020.

Selectman Ted Hugger asked about the fire department’s sale of Engine 4. Selectmen determined town meeting voters should consider the sale. Fire Chief Roy Potter got approval to remove $6,000 from the fire truck fund to repair the radiator on one of the department’s trucks.  

Selectmen signed a letter thanking Colby & Gale for responding in February when the town hall furnace stopped. “They came out to help and we are very grateful to them,” Selectman Mike Smith said.

Sarmanian said the next meeting, Monday, March 25 at the town hall, will include a visit from Holly Stover, a presentation by LincolnHealth and a request from the town’s historical society for support.