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Cornwall, last to get cable, first to get fiber optic

CORNWALL — A program to bring Optimum fiber optic connection to homes throughout the town was the subject of a report at the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The meeting, held on Zoom, attracted 14 participants.

First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said that Optimum will start work in the spring, beginning by installing “cabinets” in selected locations around the town. Specifics about the work will be posted on the town website.

Speaking of the program set for installation in eight area towns (and improving connections for about 60,000 residents), Ridgway said, “This is exciting to have this happening in town. It’s a full-scale initiative.”

“Last in cable; first in fiber,” he quipped.

ARPA progress

The ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Committee report was reviewed by Ridgway. Having received applications from local organizations, committee member Barbara Herbst has reported that 10 of the 11 applications are ready for action.

Of the $200,000 allocation received as the first half of the funds to come to the town, $100,000 in requests from organizations are being put forward, including requests from the Cornwall and Hughes libraries, the Cornwall UCC Church, the Little Guild, Greenwoods Counseling and the Cornwall Historical Society, among others.

The next focus will be first responders and essential workers, Ridgway said.

“We’re still accepting applications for the first round,” Ridgway said. To receive an application, residents should contact either Barbara Herbst or Ridgway’s office.

Recorded meetings

By law, whenever the town has a virtual meeting, it must be recorded and publicly posted. The rule applies to all town boards, commissions and  committees.

Selectman Janet Carlson reported that several area towns are examining methods to record, make publicly available, and archive such meetings, with some towns anticipating expensive equipment installations to bring that capability to their public meeting spaces.

Some towns have a designated YouTube channel to serve the need, Carlson said. A Zoom meeting can be connected to YouTube, giving residents the flexibility of participating as they do now on Zoom, or to simply watch the meeting as it shows live on YouTube. Under the service, immediately following the end of each virtual meeting, its recording is posted without delay to YouTube, where it can be viewed anytime and archived with past recorded meetings.

Cornwall internet expert Rocco Botto provided details of such an arrangement, calling it an easy-to-use solution. That ease of use would make it attractive after minimal training for all board and commission members who would need to operate it, Botto explained.

Botto said the cost is minimal, at $100 for the software.

Ridgway noted that the Cornwall Library is using its ARPA funds to outfit the library meeting room to accommodate remote meetings.

“This is the way of the future: live access to meetings,” Ridgway said.

Following discussion, the selectmen agreed to gather input from the town’s boards and commissions about the proposal.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Anna Timell praised the invaluable volunteer work of Richard Griggs, who has served the town during the pandemic by recording the town’s Zoom meetings and storing them on YouTube, while also making them available for posting on the town website.

POCD update meeting

A public meeting to review progress on the Town Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) will be held on Thursday, Jan. 27, beginning at 7 p.m., on Zoom. Details are posted on the town website.

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