Police & Fire

Dover-Foxcroft Select Board approves broadband grant application

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Another step toward connecting more unserved locations to high-speed broadband was taken with the approval of an application to the Maine Connectivity Authority that would use $106,650 in municipal ARPA funds. 

The Dover-Foxcroft Select Board formally approved using a fourth of the town’s ARPA funds for the purpose of building out a fiber system to unserved areas of town during a meeting on Monday evening.

Town Manager Jack Clukey said a broadband coalition of communities across the region has been meeting since the summer to deal with ongoing poor internet connectivity. The Maine Highlands Broadband Coalition is seeking funding services, a provider(s), and ways to share everything it does with the community.

Clukey said the first round of applications is being accepted starting next month, and applicants utilizing local monies are more competitive and more likely to receive funding. He said Dover-Foxcroft has $426,618 in total ARPA monies. After the $106,650 and another $46,178 used for premium pay for town employees, $273,785 or 64 percent would remain.

“We’re basically asking for everyone who is unserved to be served,” Clukey said. He said unserved is having no cable internet or fiber and instead having DSL or nothing. The town has 516 locations meeting this criteria and if the grant application is successful then 37 miles of DSL service would be replaced. 

DSL is a digital subscriber line, internet transferred over telephone lines. Fiber provides the fastest and most reliable speeds.

Late last year a $60,000 broadband planning study determined fiber as the only option to implement broadband countywide.

“This is a huge opportunity; it doesn’t happen all the time,” the town manager said, saying it would cost the town about $40,000 a mile to replace the 37 miles of DSL infrastructure.

“I think sometimes with grant programs our location and demographics might hurt us, but I feel different in this case,” Clukey said about Dover-Foxcroft’s rural location and makeup. He also said applications made in the first round — the next round is set for January — may have higher odds of being successful.

Select Vice Chairperson Cindy Freeman Cyr said the $106,650 of ARPA monies cost is less than had been discussed for project contributions earlier in the process. She said awarded broadband funds could also go to other RSU 68 communities to help serve students who attend the SeDoMoCha School and Foxcroft Academy.

Clukey was asked about starting discussions on what to do with the remaining ARPA funds. “I think we’re due for that,” he said.

In other business, the select board authorized the town to enter into an agreement with the Gloria C. MacKenzie Foundation for the fire department to be eligible to receive a $16,800 grant for new radios.

Clukey said Deputy Chief Brian Gaudet has been busy the last two years writing grant applications, and now the department has received funding from the East Millinocket-based foundation.

“There’s no local match required; it’s a straight grant,” Gaudet said.

“As far as portable radios go, we’re all set now,” he said, mentioning there will be enough handheld devices for all qualified department members. Gaudet said there could still be some upgrades for in-vehicle radios.

The select board also signed the warrant for the special town meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Residents taking part in the gubernatorial election can also vote on land use ordinance amendments pertaining to cannabis land uses. 

Clukey said absentee ballots can be obtained through Thursday, Nov. 3. “You can return them after the 3rd, you just can’t take them out,” he said.

The Grove Street culvert project is almost finished,” Clukey said in his report. He said the guardrail is scheduled to be installed on Oct. 20 and there is a small amount of riprap to be placed inside the culvert.

In late ,the board approved a $165,000 bid from Clark’s LLC for the installation of a Grove Street culvert to address deterioration and erosion issues.

The two bids received both came in above budget. The project scope was revised with the contractor doing only the installation and the town supplying the materials. Clark LLC, which was the initial low bidder, would contract for $165,000 for installation and improvements. Town material expenses would be $99,000 for a total cost of $264,000. A $125,000 DEP grant is going toward the Grove Street project.

Clukey said paving work is scheduled to begin this week to reclaim and pave the Dawes Road and Starbird Siding Road and a section of the Bear Hill Road as well as shim a second section of the Bear Hill Road. This work includes some East Main Street sidewalk repairs. 

“I just really appreciate the paving, I know it’s a pain in the neck this year,” Freeman Cyr said.

Clukey said the state is doing improvements on sections of sidewalk on North, Summer and East Main streets to bring crosswalks into ADA compliance.

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