April 2021 DVFiber update: Funding for fiber advances in the legislature: Think of it. The Deerfield Valley Communications Union District (DVCUD) was established by five towns in April 2020. In just one year ago, 16 more towns joined--including Vernon in July of 2020 as the 15th town--a governing board formed and established three all-volunteer working committees, and nearly 60 people in three counties are working to secure broadband access for every premise and business in the district. The Chicken and the EggOne of the most intriguing challenges facing DVFiber (DVCUD’s public persona) is how to begin work while securing the promise of necessary funding. “We cannot build an infrastructure without major investment, and it’s extremely difficult to secure initial funding without a proven track record.” That’s Ann Manwaring, chair of DVFiber, musing on the conundrum facing all communications union districts (CUDs) in Vermont. Many extremely complicated issues must be addressed at the same time, especially centered on the goal of serving all residences and businesses, even to the last mile. DVFiber is not alone: This puzzle of how to obtain initial investment offers the most strenuous challenge to all of Vermont’s CUDs.Well, it appears that help may well be on the way. Thanks to the ardent leadership of the House Committee on Energy and Technology (and the heroic efforts from Rep. Laura Sibilia, from DVFiber’s district), it seems that significant funding is likely to move from the federal government to the state and on to CUDs, through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the latest round of COVID-19 assistance from Washington, DC. The Vermont House has advanced H.360, a sweeping, game-changing bill intended to support the groundwork of Vermont’s CUDs. “We need a paradigm shift in order to build broadband to the last mile in Vermont. This bill intends to provide coordination, to require accountability, to focus on universal service, not just connectivity to the most profitable customers,” said Rep. Laura Sibilia, vice chair of the House Committee on Energy and Technology, which is sponsoring the bill that calls for significant investment in the state’s CUDs and for the establishment of appropriate infrastructure to oversee development and support. While specific funding details were not available at press time, there can be no question about the intent of this legislation and the support behind it. What’s the latest news?Three important developments:1. Despite DVCUD’s expansion having slowed a bit, Winhall was welcomed into the district on February 24, 2021., and there are other towns considering joining.  DVCUD now encompasses 21 towns in Windham, Bennington, and Windsor counties. To get a sense of the reach of all nine CUDs in Vermont, visit the statewide map at https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/CUDs_v2_March24.pdf. This map reveals which towns are currently working in a communications union district, as well as which towns are currently unaffiliated. We recently learned that nearly 400 expert volunteers are at work on broadband projects statewide!2. To reach its goals, DVFiber will soon enter a public/private partnership with an existing Internet service provider. On February, 4, 2021, DVFiber issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from interested potential partners. The response deadline was in late March and nearly a dozen companies submitted proposals. DVFiber’s governing board, on advice from the Vendor Committee, will select a partner soon with the intent of beginning work this summer. While there remains much to negotiate, there is strong reason to believe that DVFiber is on a clear path to securing broadband service for all residences and businesses in the district. And yet, patience will be required. (You will hear this repeatedly!)3. DVFiber recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Southern Vermont Communications Union District (SoVT CUD). You may not know that two towns in DVCUD are also members of SoVT CUD, Londonderry and Winhall. While there are historical and cultural differences between the two districts, the two governing boards determined that working cooperatively and openly will advance the statewide goal of providing last mile broadband technology for all Vermonters.Intrigued? Want to get involved?Soon, there will be an enormous amount of work required to secure customers for DVFiber right here in Vernon. We will need your help: The district is powered solely by volunteers. Contact Munson Hicks at debandmunson@mac.com or Bronna Zlochiver at bronna.zlochiver@gmail.com to learn how you can help.Visit DVFiber’s website at dvfiber.net and subscribe to the DVFiber newsletter. DVFiber now has a Facebook page. If you use Facebook, please Like the page (search for DVFiber, or follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/DVFiber-113984150471692) and watch for more news of DVFiber’s growth and progress in the Vernon Community News and on the Vernon Facebook Group page.

TEST TW WEATHER

A glimpse of Stonehurst in World War II

Stonehurst about 1950

By Barbara Emery Moseley

Generally, when people think of Romey and Else Racine, they think of Pine Top Ski Area, but their first business was a summer “hotel” called Stonehurst — which is today the home of Vermont Woods Studios on Huckle Hill Road.

They had left Harrington Park, N.J. buying a large number of acres from Marcia Beers, a single woman, who cared for an elderly aunt. Today, we would recognize that Aunt Nettie had Alzheimer’s Disease.

Marcia was very kind to people and animals. She had a lame white horse called Peter. After the sale, Marcia went to Deerfield, Mass. to take care of a Mrs. Stebbins, until her death. Then, Marcia and Mary Stebbins moved to Florida, where Marcia could swim and luxuriate in the warmth. Peter, the horse, was given to a local farmer.

The barn at Stonehurst was in bad shape and had to be torn down, but it had a long row of horse sheds and sheds for storage of horse-drawn equipment. Romey made it into a “garage” for the guests. Most came by car, and a few by train. One bay was converted into a pig pen. The pig was to be fed from table scraps.

Lots of renovations had to be made in what would become the kitchen. When the Racines arrived, water came from a spring, running constantly into a cistern, draining through a pipe to the outdoors, and only a wood cookstove. That was replaced by a big restaurant-style gas stove with a grill, where Romey would cook breakfasts of fried eggs and bacon, or pancakes served with Vermont maple syrup for breakfast, something new to some of the guests.

The meals were served by me, home from college in Boston, and by a young married woman whom I knew well.

I picked her up at 6:45 a.m. The two dining tables, with cloths, had been set the night before. The guests were friends of the Racines, from Harrington Park, N.J., including a Scottish couple named Jack and Nan Begg. He worked with Romey at Otis Elevator. I had a grandmother whom I never met, but whose memory was kept alive by my father, so I enjoyed their brogue.

After the dishes were done and the tables reset for lunch, my friend and I went upstairs to clean the one shared bath, and make all the beds.

The sheets and towels were changed weekly. The laundry was sent out to “Grandma Scherlin,” an elderly Swedish lady from nearby. She washed the items in her Easy Washing Machine with wringer, then hung them out to dry before ironing. No Clorox smell, just Vermont sunshine!

After the supper dishes were done, and the tables reset for breakfast, I drove my friend home to her family. Then I returned, and Romey and I entertained the guests.

Can readers guess how we entertained them? All will be revealed in my next article!