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News Briefs: Pignatelli recognizes Covestro; Worthington considers broadband options

The Worthington Broadband Committee and municipal light board will present residents with at least two possible options for bringing broadband internet to the town.

Pignatelli recognizes Covestro at State House awards ceremony

Rep. William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli, D-Lenox, Pignatelli presents Covestro’s managing director James Boehm with an official citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Photo courtesy the office of Rep. William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli

Boston — Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, nominated Covestro LLC, which has an operating facility in Sheffield, to be recognized at the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus’ second annual award ceremony held Tuesday at the State House. Covestro’s managing director, James Boehm, attended the ceremony and received the award on the company’s behalf.

The event honoring Massachusetts manufacturers was held at the grand staircase and included remarks from caucus chairmen Rep. Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin, and Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow; Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash; Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop; and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

“Manufacturing is alive and well in the Berkshires,” Pignatelli said. “It’s practically a whole new industry than it was back in the day, but its extensive impact as a job creator and an engine to drive economic success are still as prevalent and as necessary as they always have been. I’m proud to have Covestro in our neighborhood and I was happy to nominate them to be recognized at this year’s Awards.”

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Worthington boards to present two broadband options at special town meeting

Worthington — At a special town meeting this fall or early winter, the Worthington Broadband Committee and municipal light board will present residents with at least two possible options for bringing broadband internet to the town.

“We believe that taxpayers in the town of Worthington should decide how they would like to pay for broadband,” said Bart Niswonger, chairman of the MLB. “We have identified two options and are working to answer as many questions as possible before presenting them to the town.” The state has just issued a new solicitation that might attract even more options.

The first option is for the town to vote to borrow the funds to build and own its fiber network and contract with an outside firm to run it. The second option is to have an outside firm own and operate the network.

“Whichever path the town chooses, we expect the network will serve the town well for many years,” Niswonger said, adding that the services available and network architecture of the two paths are not significantly different. “The differences lie in the cost, how much control the town has, and who holds the risk,” he said.

Under the town-owned option, the Worthington would pay for two-thirds of the network construction cost – approximately $1.79 million – ­and state funds would cover the remaining third – $1.07 million. The town would have complete control over the design and construction of the network as well as the selection of the operator. Two such possible operators are Westfield Gas & Electric and Wired West. A minimum number of subscribers will have to be reached for this to be feasible, and that is part of the risk the town will bear for keeping more control over the network.

Under the second option, the town would pay Verizon and Eversource to make the poles ready for the fiber and would then rent that space. The town would also construct and own an equipment hut for the central electronics of the network. The total cost to the town is estimated at under $1 million. It is possible that the $1.07 million allocated by the state for the project could be used for this purpose, which would mean there would be no cost to the town other than yearly pole rental fees and upkeep on the electronics hut.

Millennium Communications Group, an engineering and construction company for the communications industry, and its sister company Matrix Design Group, would pay for the design and construction of the network, and operate it when completed.

To discuss the pros and cons of both options, the committee and the MLB plan to hold a series of informational meetings with residents.


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