Dublin Select Board candidate is being considered for role overseeing proposed broadband project

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/8/2020 7:32:31 PM

Dublin Select Board candidate Carole Monroe is also a candidate for a job overseeing a proposed internet project that comes before Town Meeting voters on Saturday.

Monroe says she plans to recuse herself from a Broadband Committee hiring decision if voters agree to the Consolidated Communications contract as well as elect her to board.

If voters say yes to the warrant article to 20-year bond $1.3 million with Consolidated Communications to deliver broadband internet to every residence in town, the Select Board would next commit to a financial contract with Consolidated Communications, Broadband Committee chairman Sturdy Thomas said.

The contract is currently in final negotiations and stipulates that the Select Board hire a point-person, whose role would be to ensure, on the town’s behalf, the contracted work is being done correctly.

As a professional in the industry and a longtime member of the town’s broadband committee, Monroe would be a highly qualified contender to oversee the broadband rollout, Thomas said. Monroe agreed but said she would have to recuse herself from the selection process if she wins her race for Select Board.

Thomas described the position as the town’s contract overseer, “a point of contact who can truly assess that [work is] been done correctly, so when Dublin makes a payment, it’s verified it’s been done.”

Consolidated Communications would have a project manager, he said, but that person may not be in town every day. Providing fiber to the town is a process expected to take a lot of time, Thomas said.

“As a committee, we don’t think it’s fair that someone checks on all that, and not be compensated,” he said.

The contract stipulates the person would be paid hourly at an industry-standard rate set by the Select Board, Monroe said.

Monroe has served on Dublin’s Broadband committee since 2015.

She became chairwoman of the board for ValleyNet, Inc. last year after serving as its CEO for four years. ValleyNet is a Vermont nonprofit providing internet services, construction management and operations for the East Central Vermont telecommunications district. Monroe’s duties involve community outreach and grant management for the company, including a grant that involves developing broadband models in communities in New Hampshire, Vermont, Arkansas, and Maryland. She has worked with Consolidated Communications and other internet service providers in the past, she said.

Select Board members have served as paid project overseers before, Thomas said. In 2016, Sterling Abram was appointed as a paid project manager for the Charcoal Road bridge project while he was a Selectman.

“It’s a matter of getting the info rmation back to the Select Board,” Abram said.

He said the state specifically requested town officials serve as project managers for that project. He also said he didn’t see a problem with the Select Board potentially appointing one of their own to oversee the work completed by Consolidated Communications.

If the bond goes through, Monroe said that the Select Board would likely select a town point of contact in June or July.


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