Lakes Region benefiting from improved broadband
FairPoint Communications recently announced the completion of broadband expansion projects in Poultney, Wells, and West Pawlet, plus 17 other Vermont towns. To Beth Fastiggi, state president for Vermont at FairPoint, the project completion brings greater productivity, business competition “past the storefront, and … learning beyond the confines of a classroom.”
Higher internet speeds “fuel Vermont’s economic engine,” she said in her announcement. They bring “full advantage of the digital age” to unserved and underserved areas.
Partially financed by Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund, the expansion brings download speeds in certain areas as high as 25 mbps2, fast enough to smoothly stream high-definition video, web browsing and online gaming. Actual customer speeds vary, depending on numerous factors including site traffic and congestion, individual computer components, memory and hardware and software configuration, and customer device capabilities.
Hunger no reason not to vote
MIDDLETOWN SPRINGS—Middletown Springs voters need not choose between filling their stomachs and casting their ballots at Town Meeting, March 6. Local sixth-graders are serving homemade soups, salad, bread, and desserts at the elementary school, beginning at 6:15 p.m., to benefit the class trip to Washington, D.C.
The town historical society dining room is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m., too. The society’s building committee will host its fifth annual food sale, benefitting the society.
Lakes Region seeks new bank
POULTNEY—In addition to closing its branch bank in Castleton, Citizens Bank plans to close its branch at 177 Main St., Poultney, as well, the multi-state institution announced in January. Both branches will close their doors April 14. Citing growing use of online and mobile banking, Citizens plans to close its White River Junction branches even earlier, Feb. 17. Citizens intends to retain branches in both Rutland and West Pawlet.
A thriving small town needs a bank, Bob Williams, owner of Williams Hardware in Poultney, believes. He is launching an informal petition drive to ensure a banking institution in the 3,432-citizen community, which also provides a temporary home to about 600 students at Green Mountain College September through May and a recurring onslaught of summer visitors on nearby Lake St. Catherine, June through August.
Williams views his participation in a campaign to keep the current bank in Poultney or attract another one as important to his town. “I’m just a plain old person,” he said. But he is a person who put up a sheet of paper asking people to sign up if they want to have a bank in Poultney. He’s a “walking person,” who wants to not have to start a car and drive nine miles to West Pawlet or more to go to Rutland, to make his daily bank deposit or get change to supply his cash drawer.
Senior citizens who have limited transportation options are a group in the Poultney community who are likely to be hard hit by the bank branch’s closing, said Paul Donaldson, Poultney town manager. He and other community members project that individuals who must drive to another town to do their banking will then shop in those other communities, leading to loss of trade for Poultney’s assortment of small stores and restaurants.
Up to now, Poultney has taken pride in its viability, recognizing that individuals may meet most of their everyday needs from Poultney merchants, from groceries to hammer, nails, and paint.
The Tinmouth Scholarship Fund received major support in 2016. A portion of the school’s tax stabilization fund, of more than $75,000, was added to the scholarship fund balance, plus $18,767 from individual and anonymous donors and a sizeable donation garnered during the annual plant sale. The Scholarship Fund provides $6,000 in annual scholarship awards to Tinmouth students of all ages.
Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union is setting up a superintendent search committee in light of Ron Ryan’s coming retirement. The committee consists of one ARSU board member from each of the six towns, one board member from the high school, and one representative for the central office, principals, and teachers.
Although ARSU total student enrollment has dropped 17 percent from 2006 to 2016, special education needs have risen 0.5 percent, encompassing 22 students. Nearly all those needs are being successfully met within the district, Special Services Director Kris Benway told the School Board Jan. 25.
The Castleton Elementary Community School Organization recently received a $493.80 check from the General Mills Box Tops for Education program. That brings the year’s total to $675.
Future town office site now has well
MIDDLETOWN SPRINGS—The town of Middletown Springs is moving rapidly toward completion of its town office project. Parker Water Wells owner Jerry Parker donated worker time and use of his equipment to drill a well for the town on the site. Fred Bradley and Marilynn Trapeni donated toward the materials and associated costs.
The well is now in, drilled Jan. 17, to a depth of 700 feet, and producing 2 ½ gallons per minute. After testing is complete, the temporary power pole will be removed, and the well will be officially ready for connection to the eagerly anticipated building.