This article by Chris Mays originally appeared June 20 in the Brattleboro Reformer.
DOVER — Gov. Phil Scott considered it “very appropriate” to sign legislation intended to expand broadband in the Deerfield Valley.
Scott said when he visited the valley in September 2017, the day started with a community forum in Readsboro, where initiatives and concerns around broadband had been discussed, as had the economically thriving times of a town that once had a hospital and two theaters.
“Community effort to bring back those days remain,” Scott said, calling pride in the local area and hope of revitalization “inspiring.”
At Dover Town Hall on Thursday, Scott signed into law H.513, saying it “increases funding to the Connectivity Initiative, which provides access to internet services in unserved or underserved areas. Because communities have the best understanding of what they need, it enables the Vermont Economic Development Authority to lend money for build out by community groups. It also creates a new broadband innovation grant program, which will fund grassroots solutions for rural Vermont and provide communities with technical assistance from the Vermont Department of Public Service.”
The bill had “strong support” from the House of Representatives and Senate, Scott said, adding that all parties could agree “reliable broadband is important for economic growth, education, public safety and overall access to information, services and people all over the world.”
Scott commended Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Windsor-Orange-2, and “especially” Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Windham-Bennington, for their leadership on the issue in the House. Briglin, chairman of the House Energy and Technology Committee, said it had been a priority for Scott and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson.
Department of Public Service Commissioner June Tierney said the initiative will close the gap “where the market isn’t getting it done.”
Read full article at the Brattleboro Reformer.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)