With at least 12 towns voting in favor of forming a communications district so far, Central Vermont Internet will go forward. The idea is to bring publicly-run high-speed internet to those towns.
The next step is for each town to appoint a representative to the district’s governing board. After that, the towns will be largely out of the picture and the district will be run as an independent municipality.
In several towns where the question was considered on the floor of town meeting, the vote was unanimous. Among them was the town of Berlin.
It's Berlin select board member Jeremy Hansen who is behind the idea of Central Vermont Internet. His vision is to model the district after ECFiber, which is bringing fiber internet service to its member towns in east central Vermont.
"If you’ve ever been on social media, you’ll know that sometimes Facebook and Twitter can be a bit of a cesspool — I’m being totally generous here," Hansen said on the floor of his town meeting. "ECFiber’s Facebook page, on the other hand, if you check it out, is like puppy dogs and rainbows. Everybody’s like, 'Wow, I just got hooked up. This is so great. This is amazing. I love my installer.' All these things."
By mirroring ECFiber’s model, Hansen hopes to bring that level of satisfaction to customers in the Central Vermont Internet towns. And, he says, no tax dollars will be used.
In addition to Berlin, the communities of Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, Middlesex, Plainfield and Worcester all voted join the district by town meeting floor votes. Voters in Barre City, Montpelier, Northfield and Williamstown passed the measure in the ballot booth.
The town of Roxbury also voted in favor of forming the communications district, according to the Times-Argus.
Barre Town will consider the article when it holds its annual meeting in May.
Update 10:00 p.m. This post was updated to include the result of Roxbury's vote.