From this view, Jason’s Mountain is located to the right of Payne’s Ledge which is slightly higher. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

GREENWOOD — Town officials agreed Feb. 16, on allocating $2,500 toward improving the town’s broadband internet service. The initial work will include contracted broadband mapping and a cost analysis of the work that will need to be done.

Multiple members of the Mahoosuc Area Broadband Committee spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting regarding internet service in Oxford County.The committees primary goal is to get high speed, reliable, affordable, future-ready internet service to underserved parts of the area. The group consists of residents from Albany, Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock.

Member Theresa Doherty, a Greenwood resident for more than five years, kicked off the speaking, saying a reason she decided to join the committee was due to the lack of service at her house. Doherty said she started working from home a couple of years ago and currently uses the hot spot on her phone for service.

“Its expensive and I don’t think a lot of people can afford it,” Doherty said of her current internet situation.

“I think now is a great time to be investing into high speed internet,” Doherty added. “Good internet service is necessary in this world. People are working from home, people are getting educated from home.”

Art Marshall, who currently lives in Albany and previously lived in Newry, agreed, saying internet service is far from ideal in his neck of the woods.

“There is no high speed internet available where I live,” Albany resident Art Marshall said. “It’s really the fate of a lot of parts of Oxford County.”

Mia Purcell, manager of Economic Development at Community Concepts, and who is also part of the Maine Broadband Coalition Advisory Committee, went over some of the information gathered from a survey that went around last fall asking people in the area about their internet service quality.

Results revealed that 50% of people are unserved when it comes to download speeds, which means they are getting less than 25 megabytes per second. When it came to uploading speeds, more than 60% of people are considered unserved.

Forty-three residents who completed the survey were either not at all satisfied, or somewhat dissatisfied with their internet speeds. Over 90% of people who filled out the survey said that fast, reliable and affordable internet service was not only important to just them personally at home, but throughout the entire community, as well.

Purcell said she hopes the next step is to do additional mapping and possibly look into hiring a consultant who can help identify where cable and fiber exists and where it does not exist.

Mike Wilson, senior program director at the Northern Forest Center, agreed with hiring a consultant, saying that having professional assistance would produce the most effective data.

“This data would be very detailed. It would be house to house, street by street analysis of where there is and is not service,” Wilson said. “We want to identify where the gaps in service are and then find the best possible ways to address those gaps.”

Wilson said possible ways could be building a municipal broadband network or to build out into the gaps of the existing internet service providers.

As of Tuesday evening, Bethel, Greenwood, Woodstock and Newry had all agreed to allocate money toward broadband and the plan moving forward is to have the towns collaborate on ways service can be improved.

Other business

In other news, selectmen approved naming the mountain on the southern end of Twitchell Pond, Jason’s Mountain. The request was made by State Senator Rick Bennett of Oxford, in memory of his great-grandfather, Jason Bennett, who was a longtime tax collector in Greenwood and who built a cabin still used by Bennett and his family today.

In a letter to selectmen, Bennett said “This will honor my great-grandfather’s memory and his contributions to the land and to the town overall, and it would bring immense joy to my father. I would like your support of this naming.”

Bennett also mentioned that many locals already referred to the mountain as “Jason’s Mountain” or “Oak Hill, but that the place had never been given a legal name.

Part of the 90 acres Bennett’s family owns in Greenwood includes about one quarter of Jason’s Mountain.

Bennett got full support from the three property owners “principally affected” by the naming.

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