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Polito visits Hilltowns for update on broadband push

  • Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, left, discusses the state’s broadband with other state and local officials from Franklin County towns Tuesday at the Town Hall in Shutesbury. RECORDER STAFF/Paul FranZ

  • Massachusetts Lieutenant Govenor Karyn Polito visited Shuteesbury Town Hall to meet with state and local officials to discuss broadband. June 267 2017. Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Massachusetts Lieutenant Govenor Karyn Polito visited Shuteesbury Town Hall to meet with state and local officials to discuss broadband. June 267 2017. Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Massachusetts Lieutenant Govenor Karyn Polito visited Shuteesbury Town Hall to meet with state and local officials to discuss broadband. June 267 2017. Paul Franz—Paul Franz



For the Gazette
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

SHUTESBURY — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joined Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, and local officials Tuesday to discuss progress on broadband for unserved towns.

“I’ve heard the stories. Whether it’s the difference of working from home or not, or just from a public safety standpoint, this has to get done,” Polito said.

“It has been a hard struggle,” Kulik noted, “It’s a partnership, and towns have been frustrated for a long time.”

Polito’s visit comes on the heels of more than $15 million in state broadband grants announced this year — the latest financial infusion in a years-long drama to bring high-speed internet into the region. Shutesbury has received $870,000, with the remainder has been divided among 14 communities.

Broadband Committee member Gayle Huntress estimated it will cost about $2.5 million to build out the town’s network. The town intends to hire Westfield Gas & Electric to plan and begin the build-out process. She said work is expected to be completed by 2019.

“Initial efforts began in the early 2000s, but it really took off a few years ago,” said Craig Martin, another Shutesbury committee member. “Looking to the future, we’re thrilled that things are moving. There are a lot of entrepreneurs out here, and that will increase.”

Later Tuesday afternoon, Polito and Kulik held roundtables about broadband in Rowe and Ashfield, speaking to leaders from Charlemont, Heath, Rowe, Ashfield, Cummington, Plainfield, Windsor, and Chesterfield.