Better internet is coming, but Monterey residents need to act

Internet availability, or the lack thereof, has been a frequent topic of discussion and in many cases, angst, over the last decade.  Even with the AT&T cell tower offering interim relief, those of us who use it for data have seen a pronounced degradation over holiday weekends due peak demand.  Fortunately, there is progress being made.  For homes in New Marlborough, the town has entered into an agreement with Spectrum and work is underway. The targeted go live date is in the first half of 2021.

For residents on the other side of the lake in Monterey, the log jam between the State and Fiber Connect (FC) has been broken and the State will release about $1.1 million to FC to wire 96% of the town with fiber optic lines PROVIDED 51% of the Monterey households commit now.  Without that commitment, the State will not release the funding and FC will not move forward.  Furthermore, since FC has already wired a significant portion of Monterey, no other company will likely enter the market.

As of July, 2020 FC had received commitments from 39%.  If you are interested in true broadband and have not contacted FC about your interest, you may want to do so now. In addition, FC is offering some very attractive installation discounts if you commit now.

Even if you don’t see the need personally for broadband access,  it is fair to say your property values will be adversely impacted by the lack of broadband availability.  https://www.fiberconnect.website/

Notice from New Marlborough Fire Dept 07/13/2020 (copy) original form in media

New Marlborough Volunteer Fire Department

July 13, 2020

To: The Lake Buel Association

The New Marlborough Volunteer Fire Department is reporting that the conditions of privately owned dirt roads around Lake Buel present obstacles to providing emergency response. The New Marlborough Volunteer Fire Department will continue to respond to every emergency reported to the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center, however addressing the following obstacles would improve our ability to provide effective response.

The very many low hanging tree branches present an obstacle to quickly reaching the scene of your emergency. We suggest that a professional tree company be hired as this appears to be beyond the scope of what each homeowner can reasonably address.  While we recognize this would involve an expense, it would provide additional protection for your properties and possibly save lives.  There are two professional tree companies located in New Marlborough and many others in our area.

Another obstacle the Fire Department requests you consider is that the conditions of these roads present obstacles for fire trucks to navigate. We certainly are not suggesting anything that would alter the rural character of your roads, and can offer to meet with your representatives for a walking tour to discuss what could reasonably and unobtrusively be done.

Another issue is that not all homes currently have a 911 sign which allows us to immediately confirm the address of their emergency. This is easy to implement, by having each homeowner order an approved sign from the Town’s 911 Coordinator Dave Herrick, by calling 413 229-8795 or 413 229-2663, the cost is a modest $20.00. Please be aware that Town bylaw Requires that every home have this sign or a suitable equivalent.

Our last request is that all homes which have an alarm system which automatically calls 9“ issue a KnoxBox to allow access when no one is home, note that this is also required by Town bylaw. These are ordered through knoshomebox.com.

Certainly feel free to contact me with questions on any of the above, my cell phone is 413 644-5324 or by email at rdvorchik@yahoo.com.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bob Dvorchik, Assistant Chief

New Marlborough Volunteer Fire Department

 

 

Annual Lake Buel District Board Meeting 05/23/2020

MINUTES OF THE
ANNUAL LAKE BUEL RESTORATION/PRESERVATION DISTRICT MEETING
FISCAL YEAR JULY 1, 2020 TO JUNE 30, 2021
MAY 23 2020

The meeting was brought to order by Peter Hagen at 10:00 AM with 152% of the District area represented. In attendance: Prudential Committee members Peter Hagen, Mark Amstead, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, and Wayne Dolby. Mr. Hagen thanked few residents for attending. Mr. Hagen mentioned that he was asked from the New Marlborough Fire Department to remind the residents that the access to areas in the District has poor conditions, so please beware of them. A voter also mentioned that there has been issues with plowing in the winter and residents couldn’t access their property, which is a hazard.

Article 1. To bring in their nominations and votes for the election of District Moderator for a term of one year. Voted – Unanimous, Peter Hagen

Article 2. To see if the District will vote to accept the minutes of the previous Annual Meeting held on May 25, 2019. Voted – Unanimous

Article 3. To see if the District will vote to accept the Report of the Treasurer for the Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020) YTD. Voted – Unanimous

Article 4. To bring in their nominations for the election of the following officers:

Prudential Committee Nominees
a. District Clerk for one year Katherine Chretien
b. District Treasurer for one year Katherine Chretien
c. Prudential Committee: one member for three years Wayne Dolby
(incumbent)

Voted – Unanimous

Article 5. Motion to see if the District will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $ 93,156.14
for the purposes constituting proposed expenses of the District for Fiscal Year 2021.
Mr. Hagen mentioned that the proposed budget is just an increase of $833.34 from last year budget, since the board decided to keep the budget down. A voter questioned is the harvester going to come closer to their property. Mr. Hagen stated that the machine operator is trying his best and if there is any problems to contact one of the board members. The board knows that weeds are an issue by resident’s docks. After the brief discussion a motion was made, seconded and so voted to unanimously approve the FY21 budget as presented.

Article 6. To see if the District will vote to authorize the Prudential Committee to borrow such sums as may be necessary in anticipation of tax receipts for the Fiscal Year 2021, and to issue District Notes therefore as provided under the Special Act. Voted – Unanimous

Article 7. To see if the District will vote to authorize the Prudential Committee to accept gifts from proprietors or any other entity for the benefit of the District. Voted – Unanimous

Article 8. To see if the District will vote to transfer from Free Cash $3,000.00 (three thousand dollars) to the Equipment Replacement/Repair Stabilization Account. Voted – Unanimous

Article 9. To transact any other business that may come before the meeting.
A voter asked on what the status is on the beavers. Mr. Hagen mentioned that the beavers are an ongoing issue and they have a person working on the beavers continually.

Motion to adjourn the Fiscal Year 2020 Annual District Meeting at 10:14AM. Unanimous

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Chretien, LBD

Lake Buel District Board Meeting 05/14/2020

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
May 14, 2020
Outside of 28 Seven Arts Road, Monterey

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead, & Wayne Dolby.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 6PM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve January 2nd minutes as prepared.
Old Business:
Mr. Amstead mentioned that the Harvester is ready to go and if receive permission from the Board it will launch on Monday, May 18th. Mr. Amstead said that Mr. Ziegler looked into two companies for parts for the harvester. Alpha Boats couldn’t get the parts. After the brief discussion a motion was made, seconded and so voted to have the Harvester begin work on the 18th of May.
Mr. Amstead also mentioned that the wooden boards have been inserted in the dam but in additional repairs will be needed.
Mr. Amstead will explore some more about the dam clean out with O’Brien.
Mr. Hagen mentioned that he has called 90% of the residents in Gibson Grove regarding sending in their proxies in which most of them done. Mr. Hagen also said some of the residents didn’t receive their warrant packages and some of the residents didn’t know what he was speaking about.
New Business:

Mrs. Pierce mentioned that Mr. Hassett sent out an email on guidelines for boating and she is willingly to make copies if any residents need the guidelines.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to send a donation to the Monterey Fire Department for use of the pavilion for the Annual Meeting.

Next meeting is scheduled for May 23, 2020 at the Monterey Fire Department for the Annual Meeting.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 7:05PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

Lake Buel District Board Meeting 1/02/2020

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
January 2, 2020
28 Corashire Road, New Marlborough

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead, & Wayne Dolby.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 4:20PM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve November 19th minutes as amended.
Old Business:
Audit: LBD Treasurer mentioned that Mr. Thomas Scanlon’s office has completed the audit and will attend a future meeting to explain his findings. A motion was made, seconded and so voted to pay the auditor out of the reserve fund once the bill is received.
Harvester/Maintenance/Weeds:
Mr. Amstead mentioned that Mr. Gary O’Brien’s crew began the permitted clean-up of outlet stream debris last week.
The Board discussed that they would like the harvester to start one week early in the 2020 season (May 18th).
Mission Statement: Mr. Hassett reviewed the Lake Buel District and its Board Members (Prudential Committee), Duties, Responsibilities and Powers they have as spelled out in Bylaws of The Lake Buel Restoration Preservation District. A printed copy of such was supplied to each Board Member. With this review and discussion it was deemed that a Mission Statement for the Prudential Committee was not needed.
New Business:

The Board discussed potential future remedies to manage weeds and silt, since it’s not known what the remedies may be. They proposed a reasonable amount ($20,000.00) be budgeted for five years to the Annual Warrant in order to be prepared if a solution is found.

Mr. Hagen will complete the cover letter for the Annual Warrant package, also to be included is a note asking for email addresses.

The Board reviewed and discuss Article #5 General Government and set the budget amounts with an increase of $1,833.34. Articles #6-8 & 10 will remain the same as the previous year. A new Article #9 will be added in the amount of $20,000 for a weed/silt removal account.

Next meeting is scheduled for May 14th at 6PM, Mrs. Pierce residence – Seven Arts Road, Monterey.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 5:33PM and enter into executive session.

Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

Lake Buel District Board Meeting 11/19/19

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
November 19, 2019
28 Corashire Road, New Marlborough

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead, & Wayne Dolby.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 7PM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve August 17th minutes as amended.
Old Business:
Email list: Mr. Hagen presented an email list that Mrs. Ginny Hyde has been working on, but more email addresses are needed for the Monterey side of the lake. The Board decided to put a notice in the tax bills requesting email addresses.
Audit: LBD Treasurer mentioned that Mr. Thomas Scanlon has contact her but hasn’t schedule a date, and she’ll reach out to Mr. Scanlon if no contact has been received from him by next week.
Harvester/Maintenance/Weeds:
The Board discussed the level of the lake which is still high – Mr. Hagen will contact Mr. Eric Ives.
Mr. Amstead meet with Mr. Gary O’Brien and Mr. Chuck Wyman regarding the debris clean up. Mr. Amstead mentioned that the dam is blocked with shrubs and muck. Mr. Amstead also said that Mr. O’Brien labor is $45.00 an hour times 5 guys and will use 2 ton dump trucks to remove the debris.
The Board discussed that it was a good idea to have the harvester on the lake later in the season.
Mission: The Board discussed a mission for the Harvester operations, Mr. Hassett will compose a mission statement.
Water Testing: Mrs. Pierce mentioned that Ms. Shannon Poulin has not been paid for the testing done, and she is owed for 8.5 hours. The Board would like to receive the weekly results and where the area is that is tested. A motion was made, seconded and so voted to pay Ms. Poulin for the 8.5 hours.

New Business:

Mrs. Pierce mentioned that the Town of Monterey wanted support for a grant that they are applying for, to repair the old stone dam behind the library. Mrs. Pierce also stated that the grant needed to be submitted so she signed the grant applicant on behalf of the Board.

The Board review the bank accounts balance and noticed that the new bank is giving great interest.
The Board began to discuss what they could possibly use free cash for on the upcoming annual warrant.
The Board discussed that they are very happy with the work Mr. David Ziegler has done for the District. A motion was made, seconded and so vote to purchase a gift certificate to the Old Mill Inn.
Next meeting is scheduled for January 2nd at 4PM, Mr. Dolby residence – 28 Corashire Road.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 7:32PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

Lake Buel District Board Meeting 8/27/2019

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
August 27, 2019
28 Seven Arts Road, Monterey

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead, & Wayne Dolby.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 7PM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve July 2th minutes as amended.
Old Business:
Outlet Clean Out: No Notice of Intent (NOI) has been filed as of yet. The Board viewed the map area of the Lake. It was noted that silt is a separate issue. Mr. Amstead will contact the Wyman’s for permission to access the Lake from their property. Mr. Hagen will contact the Brown’s for permission as well. The Board thought that it would be great idea to get third party thoughts on the outlet stream and banks, such as the Housatonic Valley Association, Mrs. Pierce will contact Ms. Alison Dixon to see if they can review the outlet.
Email list: Mr. Hagen mentioned that Mrs. Ginny Hyde is still working on the email list.
Audit: Scanlon Associates will be in touch with LBD Treasurer to schedule the audit, as of this meeting no date has been scheduled.
Fireworks: Mr. Hassett mentioned everything is all set for the fireworks display and there are no issues.
New Business:
Solitude Lake Management: The Board had a conference call with Mr. Joe Onorato to discuss issues of the Lake. Mr. Hagen informed Mr. Solitude that the lake consist of 177 acres. Mr. Onorato mentioned that Solitude does everything with lake management which includes the following: water testing, lake mapping, algae control, aerations systems, pond algae control, water quality, neration/foundations, fisheries management, debris/sediment removal, erosion/shoreline management, nuisance/invasive species. Mr. Onorato also mentioned that Solitude has worked for the towns of Greenfield, Stockbridge, Lake Garfield and many others in the Berkshire Region. Mr. Hagen mentioned that thirty years ago only extensive testing was done on the lake. Mr. Onorato mentioned that a survey is good for five years. Mr. Onorato also mentioned that chemicals could be used to assist in the removal of weeds. The Board stated that the residents of the Lake District don’t want chemicals put in the Lake. It was mentioned that a good time to do a survey is either July/August/September. The cost range is $13,000 for an Army Corps method survey (GPS) which Mr. Onorato said would be a good first step and he highly recommends a survey be done. Mr. Onorato also mentioned that for weeds to grow they need water, sun light, nutrients. This past spring was very wet which provided run off of nutrients into the lake. Mr. Onorato also stated that one to two foot of much is common in New England lakes. The Board thanked Mr. Onorato for his time and will be in touch with him.
Harvester/Maintenance/Weeds: Mr. Amstead mentioned that the trailer needs six new tires to replace those that have been on the trailer for fifteen years. The Board agreed to purchase them and pay for the tires out of the equipment account.
Mr. Hagen stated that the harvester is now fifteen years old and asked if it needs to be reconditioned by the original manufacturer. It was noted that the chains were replaced in 2014, and the Harvester will need new cutting teeth, rebuild posts. After discussion the Board will hold off sending the Harvester to the manufacturer and just do the maintenance as required.
The Board feels at this time weeds are under control and that there are three more weeks of cutting. Harvester will cut weeds till September 19th if there are still weeds growing. The Board discussed that the inlet area is getting worse with weeds and the Harvester is doing the best that can be done, but can’t do anything about the silt. It was decided, that a thirty two gallon tank box will be purchased for the Harvester.
The Board discussed that weeds still continue to grow later into the season and then they seem to die off in the fall/winter. It was noted that there are areas where you can see the weeds getting worse, the Board will keep an eye on those areas.

Mission: The Board discussed a mission for the Harvester operations, Mr. Hassett will compose a mission statement.
Water Testing: Basically there are no problems noted from the testing. Mrs. Pierce call will Tri Town Health to see if they have results, since Monterey Board of Health doesn’t have them.

Lake Garfield Group is requesting that the Lake Buel District pay for the testing of Lake Buel; the Board tabled this request till the next meeting since Lake Garfield Group has not submitted any financial information.

Storage Shed: Mr. Amstead stated that there is no need for a shed at this time, that the Harvester can be stored at Larkin’s Farm in Sheffield.

The Board reviewed the bills and approved payment of all.

Next meeting is scheduled for November 19th at 6PM, Mr. Dolby residence – 28 Corashire Road.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 9:03PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

Lake Buel District Board Meeting

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
July 2, 2019
28 Seven Arts Road, Monterey

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 7:07PM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve May 25th minutes as amended.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve the minutes form Annual Town Meeting, May 25th as amended.
Old Business: Mrs. Pierce mentioned that she has received the results of the cyanbacteria testing from Ms. Shannon Poulin. Mrs. Pierce will forward the results to the other members for review. The Board would like to know where the location of testing is being done in the lake.
Mrs. Pierce mentioned that she has spoken with someone from the Monterey Board of Health regarding the testing results and they don’t have them on file, possibly the testing results went to Tri Town Health.

Outlet Clean Out: Mr. Amstead mentioned that Mr. Chris Tryon has begun the Notice of Intent application but hasn’t completed it yet.
Harvester/Maintenance/Weeds: Mr. Amstead also mentioned that the Harvester had broken down and was fixed the next day.
Mr. Amstead also mentioned that no contract has been signed yet by the new harvester contractor. The Board reviewed the bills submitted by the contractor and the Board would like the contractor to work more hours in the lake. Mr. Amstead will review the bills in more detail. It was noted that no work would occur on July 4th.

The Board discussed that weeds still continue to grow later into the season and then they seem to die off in the fall/winter. It was noted that there are areas where you can see the weeds getting worse, the Board will keep an eye on those areas.

Audit: Mr. Hagen will contact Scanlon & Associates office regarding scheduling an audit.

Email List: Mr. Hagen mentioned that Mrs. Ginny Hyde will handle the email list and is still working on it.

The Board reviewed the bills and approved payment of all.

Next meeting is scheduled for August 27th at 7PM, Mrs. Pierce’s residence – 28 Seven Arts Road.

A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 8:24PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

Lake Buel District Board Meeting

Lake Buel District Board Meeting
May 25, 2019
Main Road (United Church of Christ), Monterey

Members present: Peter Hagen, Kyle Pierce, Chris Hassett, Mark Amstead & Wayne Dolby.
Meeting was called to order by Chairman, Mr. Hagen at 11:15AM.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to approve May 7th minutes as amended.
After a brief discussion a motion was made, seconded and so voted to use flat rate for taxes for FY20 as $.82 per thousand.
Mrs. Pierce mentioned that a few of the voters spoke about the issue of parking for the Annual Town Meeting. The Board discussed possible other locations to host the Annual Town Meeting.
The Board discussed that sludge is a main issue that goes to the bottom of the lake. Mr. Hassett will be exploring websites and gather more information for the Board to review.
Mr. Hassett mentioned that Camp Half Moon has water testing done 4 to 5 times during the season per the Board of Health. Mrs. Pierce will contact the Monterey’s Board of Health to see if she can obtain a copy of the results if they have them.
Mr. Hagen mentioned that Ms. Robin Williams is a retired bio teacher and is willingly to assist Board if needed.
Mrs. Pierce mentioned that Ms. Shannon Poulin works both Camp Half Moon & Friends of Lake Garfield and is a very responsible student, whom happens to do the water testing.
Next meeting is scheduled for July 2nd at 7PM, Mrs. Pierce’s residence – 28 Seven Arts Road.
A motion was made, seconded and so voted to adjourn at 11:34AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Chretien, District Clerk

An alternative way to connect to the Net

For those cottages that have relied on Verizon’s DSL for Internet connectivity, the story seems to be getting worse every year. But there’s an alternative that so far has been working well for us.

The problem

DSL uses existing phone lines to provide Internet connectivity. This means the access provider doesn’t have to install special cables to connect users. But telephones lines are far from the optimum medium for the Internet: DSL is routinely advertised as providing speeds of 15Mbps (megabits per second) and sometimes more, which is below the FCC’s definition of “broadband” as at least 25Mbps. That’s why Verizon refers to DSL as “High Speed Internet,” as marketers will. Still, 15Mbps is plenty for browsing the Web and streaming music.

Except as Verizon DSL users at the Lake, we have not ever gotten anywhere close to 15Mbps. We’ve routinely limped along with 1.5Mbps, and on a very good day, 2.5Mbps. For this we paid Verizon about $70/month, which included a landline. During the winter when we suspended service, we paid Verizon about $30/month for the privilege of not using their service.

Then this summer our connection dropped to 0.6Mbps and lower. Our upload speeds, which are always lower than download speeds, dropped to 0. If more than one person was using the Web, the connection became unusable. Verizon checked our lines and declared that everything was just fine, and 0.6Mbps was totally within the range we’d contracted for. And, no, there was no higher tier that we could pay for in order to get minimally viable connectivity.

It has been widely reported, and not always denied, that Verizon wants out of the DSL business.  So chalk it up to my cynicism that I think it plausible that Verizon has been lowering DSL speeds in order to chase people off of their service.

If so, it’s worked on us.

A Solution

We were on the verge of going with a satellite dish solution when my nephew suggested a device like a MoFi SIM4 Gateway. I know it sounds technical, but the idea is simple.

On a hill on the northwest side of the Lake you can see a lonely AT&T cellphone tower. A device like the ones from MoFi sends signals to and from that tower just the way an AT&T cellphone does. But the MoFi device only uses the connection to send and receive Internet data. It’s like a cellphone that you only use for data, not for phone calls.

The MoFi device also creates a wifi hotspot so anyone with the password can connect their laptop, tablet, Alexa, Google Home or any other wifi-enabled device to it, and then through the MoFi to the Internet.

AT&T sells a device that does the same thing: the Nighthawk. It costs about half as much –. the MoFi device costs $315 – but the the MoFi has far more powerful antennas for connecting to the cell tower.

Setting up the MoFi device entailed choosing a name for our wifi hotspot, and an administrative password and a user password. The box itself is about 3 x 4 inches  and is mounted indoors with a power supply that plugs into a normal outlet.

If you decide to get the MoFi, you’ll also need a data plan; this is like a normal cell phone plan except you won’t get a phone connection. There are some issues with AT&T’s own data plan, though. Most important, it limits how much data you can use per month. After 10 gigabytes, AT&T throttles the connection for the rest of that month. If you have a few people doing the sorts of things people do with the Internet these days, you may hit that limit.

So we instead decided to get a data plan from Ubifi.net. In fact, we bought our MoFi router through them; it’s the same price but they pre-install the sim card and configure the device for you. Ubifi has three advantages over AT&T’s data plan.

First, it is unlimited. Use all the data you want.

Second, the support people I spoke with were great. There’s no big phone tree to navigate, and no scripts the support people are required to speak from. The support folks were friendly and super competent.

Third, while the per month charge is $90, and thus substantially more than AT&T’s data plan and even more than Verizon’s DSL + landline charge, Ubifi lets you suspend your service for free. No monthly charges at all. They can do this because you don’t actually suspend your service. You cancel it. To re-start it, you pay $30 for a new sim card and you’re good to go. This makes the annual cost more attractive for those of us who are summer residents.

Our experience with the Mofi so far has been good. The unit arrived in three business days as promised. The Ubifi support folks said that while the bandwidth depends upon how strong the reception is, their users typically get 15-40Mbps. We are getting 15-25Mbps, depending on factors we don’t know and can’t measure. That’s about 25 times the bandwidth we were getting from Verizon. (Speedtest.net is reportedly a reliable way of testing your bandwidth.)

So far so good.

(Note: I have no connection to any of the companies mentioned here.)