Posted in Highway Department on November 2, 2013
Most of you are already aware that the bridge on Alford Road has been completed, and the state performed its final inspections this week. This bridge was rebuilt rather swiftly, it only took 8 months to complete (much faster than the East Road bridge a few years ago) but the swiftness probably had much to do with the several years of surveys, planning and engineering that was involved. Overall the bridge is wider and built sturdier than the previous one to accommodate today’s Alford Road traffic, and the mouth of the bridge is wider underneath to reduce the chances of flooding in heavy rain seasons.
Posted in Fire Department on October 6, 2013
The Alford Fire Department is hosting their annual pancake breakfast on Sunday October 13th from 7:30am to 11:30am. Come and have breakfast with those who are always on call to come to your aid in an emergency.
Posted in Broadband Committee on September 16, 2013
Many Alford residents have asked about current broadband services and when higher-speed broadband service will become available. The Alford Broadband Committee is happy to present a progress report. And there has been progress, both in terms of what we cannot control, and what we can do!
Completion of the MBI network
All the fiber-optic cable for the State-funded Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) “middle-mile” network has been installed. Although the first stage of the network between Otis and Sandisfield was inaugurated in April 2013, complete activation has been delayed while the entire system undergoes testing; to ensure that once it is activated it will not need to be shut down. Our segment of the network was installed at the Town Hall and the Firehouse last April and the MBI reports that it is in the final testing phase. You should be aware that the timing of the full activation of the network is an MBI decision, and will bring service only to the Town Hall, the Town offices, and the Firehouse. The next step is to complete connections to Alford residences, the so-called “last mile,” which will be the responsibility of each individual town. Some of that cost may be available from the State of Massachusetts, as indicated below.
Even though Governor Patrick and his administration have committed to delivering fiber-optic-based broadband to all of Western Massachusetts, inadequate state funding will likely be one of the key barriers to completing connections to every home (“fiber-to-the home,” known as FTTH). The Governor has filed legislation requesting appropriation of an additional $40 million to be allocated to MBI for FTTH; that legislation is still pending. With another $40-million in funding, the final stages of this broadband expansion should begin by October 2014. How MBI would use these funds, if approved, has not been announced. The Broadband Committee is in regular contact with MBI so that Alford will be ready to apply for state money when, if, and however that opportunity arises. We have also been in touch with our State legislators, Senator Downing and Representative Pignatelli, about our activities and concerns.
Town Initiatives and Funding
The Broadband Committee has been meeting regularly both to monitor progress by MBI and to prepare to deliver FTTH. As a first step, we are developing plans for a study of various operational and financial models for bringing high-speed broadband Internet to every residence in Alford. This step is necessary because even if the Governor’s $40 million is approved, it is far less that what is needed to build out the “last mile” throughout the entire MBI-served region of more than 40 towns. Our continuing study of Alford’s specific needs and requirements is thus important because it will give us an accurate determination of the overall costs for building out our town’s network. Importantly, a number of potential solutions exist to the problem of delivering FTTH, each with differing levels of bandwidth, speed, technical issues and advantages, and of course cost. We are studying and evaluating these solutions carefully.
Once the total dollar amounts for various FTTH possibilities have been determined, we will be working on identifying funding alternatives. As noted above, there may be State funds made available to offset some portion of our cost to build out the high-speed Internet service infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to find a way to make the best broadband service available to residents, as soon as practical, for the best value. We will keep you informed as these alternatives take shape.
Current Service Availability
For those who need some form of higher-speed Internet access immediately, we call your attention to the following services of which we are aware:
- Verizon DSL service has very limited availability in Alford. Some residents on Route 71, Crooked Hill Road, and Green River Road get DSL service. Contacting Verizon at 1-800-837-4966 is worth a try in these areas.
- WiSpring (owned by Mid-Hudson Data) is a fixed-wireless service that’s available to most Alford residents at speeds of 1 to 3 Mbps. Their service is more robust than satellite Internet and there are no monthly data usage limits, but service is limited by line-of-sight between the home and the tower from which the Internet signal originates. Contact WiSpring at (413)528-5008.
- Cellular internet service from Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless may be available at your location, especially if you live at a higher elevation. If you have a cellphone and you get 2-3 bars of signal strength within your home then you may also be able to receive wireless internet service for your computer as well.
- The primary satellite Internet providers in our area are HughesNet at 1-866-293-8945 and Excede (WildBlue) at 1-855-262-5487. Their recently-upgraded satellite Internet services offer 10 to 15 Mbps plans with monthly data usage limits, and existing customers can upgrade to the faster equipment. Of course, satellite service is weather-dependent and limited by line-of-sight between the satellite and the home.
The Alford Broadband Committee
Posted in News on September 14, 2013
Meet your neighbors for a Community Cafe on Saturday, September 21st from 8:30am to 11:00am at the Alford Town Hall after dropping off your trash at the transfer station! Mary Poole and Davina Muse are hosting this event and all residents are invited! We hope to see you there!
Posted in Land Trust on August 29, 2013
The Alford Land Trust Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, September 7, 10:00am at the Alford Town Hall. The primary speaker at the event will be Jess
Toro (of Native Habitat Restorations) and the topic will be “Managing Invasive
Plant Species on your Property in Alford.” Immediately after the meeting, there will be a related demonstration and a walk at the Hardy Conservation Restriction land on East Road.