Deerfield Valley Communications Union District (DVFiber, DVCUD) had its beginnings in a broadband working group composed of 25-30 people from several towns in the Deerfield Valley. Many of us had been members of our individual Town Broadband Committees and had been working on solutions for several years. Frustrations ran high.
With the help of Representative Laura Sibilia, we learned about a structure that had been put in place by the Legislature to create Communication Union Districts, special purpose municipalities composed of two or more towns. These Districts, known as CUDs, were created for the express purpose of extending high speed broadband to every underserved premise in our District by building out a network of fiber to the premises (FTTP), something commercial providers have not done.
At Town Meetings March 3, 2020, five towns voted to create the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District. Those towns were Halifax, Marlboro, Stratton, Whitingham and Wilmington. The District had its organizational meeting on April 9, 2020, at which time two more towns were accepted as members, Readsboro and Wardsboro. Since that time we have grown to 16 towns as of October 21, 2020.
Our member towns are Brattleboro, Dover, Guilford, Halifax, Jamaica, Londonderry, Marlboro, Readsboro, Stamford, Stratton, Vernon, Wardsboro, Weston, Whitingham, Wilmington, and Windham. We are actively seeking additional Towns to join our efforts.
Over our first few months, we established our organization by electing officers with Ann Manwaring as Chair, Steven John as Vice-Chair, Paul Butler as Treasurer, David Jones as Clerk and Donna Sebastian as Assistant Clerk. Further, we registered with the Secretary of State, established a DBA as DV Fiber, established IRS identification, created bank accounts, adopted by-laws, and wrote and adopted statements of our Mission, Vision, and Principles.
Our enabling Legislation calls for a Governing Board composed of Representatives from all member towns. That Board has been meeting monthly since our inception. To do the work of the District, we set up three working committees; a Finance and Audit Committee (the only committee required by the Legislation) chaired by Thomas Almeida of Wardsboro, a Vendor Committee chaired by David Jones of Halifax, and a Communications Committee chaired by Zon Eastes of Guilford.
Prior to the existence of DVCUD, the Windham Regional Commission was awarded a Broadband Innovation Grant by the Vermont Department of Public Service to undertake a Feasibility Study and to develop a Business Plan. DVCUD worked closely with WRC staff and its consultants in the completion of these studies. In addition we set up a web site at www.dvfiber.org
We were awarded a $10,000 operating grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, and an $8,000 grant from the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. We were awarded a $100,000 grant from PSD to do a pole study in three towns and for legal and professional support. In addition, we have been invited to apply for a Northern Borders Commission grant to complete pole studies in the rest of our towns and to create a high-level design for our network.
Our all-volunteer team of Governing Board Representatives and Alternates and interested citizens from member towns is proceeding on a multi-year path to achieve our mission on behalf of our community. We greatly appreciate the support provided by our State legislators, the Public Service Department, local Selectboards, Broadband Committees, and interested individuals. We can and will deliver on our promise to make affordable, high-speed broadband available to every home and business.