Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Broad range of topics discussed at the Westminster mayor and common council meeting Monday night

Ting, the Westminster broadband technology project, to begin residential installations soon

At the meeting of the Westminster Common Council Monday night, August 10, 2015, Westminster officials had a wide range of issues on the agenda. From left to right: Dr. Mona Becker, Tony Chiavacci, Council President Dr. Robert Wack, Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz, Suzanne Albert, and Greg Pecoraro.

Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz, (L) recognizes Superintendent John Rawlings, Sr., for 30-yrs of service to the city at Mon night’s council http://kevindayhoffwestgov-net.blogspot.com/2015/08/at-monday-nights-meeting-of-westminster.html

Westminster Mayor Kevin R. Utz, on the left, recognizes Superintendent John A. Rawlings, Sr., for 30-years of service to the city at Monday night’s council meeting as Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding and Finance Director Tammy Palmer look on. August 10, 2015 by Kevin E. Dayhoff

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

By Kevin E. Dayhoff

At the meeting of the Westminster Common Council Monday night, Westminster officials had a wide range of issues on the agenda; including an employee recognition, new trucks and equipment purchases, a new playground equipment initiative, and an update on the city’s fiber technology project.

The meeting began with a mayor and common council recognition of the city’s wastewater superintendent John A. Rawlings, Sr., for thirty-years of service.

With his wife and family present, Westminster Mayor Kevin R. Utz acknowledged how Rawlings and his department have saved the city a “great deal of money over the years” by their diligence, and innovative management approaches to an ever-increasingly complex aspect of government. Westminster councilwoman Mona Becker, a professor of environmental studies at McDaniel College agreed; reporting how she takes her environmental geology and chemistry classes to the treatment plant for field trips.

This was followed by a progress report on the Westminster Ting fiber technology initiative, by Valerie Bortz, the Westminster Ting city manager.

“Exciting things are happening,” said Bortz as she reported that the city’s fiber project is “getting ready to go live this week.” Bortz reported that soon Ting will begin making scheduled fiber installations in homes in Westminster.

Bortz also reported that the city recently was given a 2015 Community Broadband Innovative Partnership of the Year award by The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA.) According to a recent release found on the city’s Ting broadband fiber web page, “NATOA is a professional association for local governments … [to] help these communities get better access to telecommunications and broadband Internet services. These awards are intended to recognize people, towns, companies and initiatives each year that advanced the cause of broadband deployment and adoption in local communities.”

A discussion among the councilmembers ensued about continued efforts to get the word out about the broadband fiber initiative. It was noted that there remain many questions about “What is Ting;” how does it bring value to the city and what does it means to Westminster citizens.

In a recent e-mail interview with Westminster councilmember Tony Chiavacci, he noted, “As far as the value. There is a lot. True high-speed internet access … not what we currently have; but gig service - is going to be as important in the future as electricity and roads are to us today.

“We feel this project puts us many years ahead of most of the rest of the nation and it will position Westminster to be on the front of this technology. The hope is by us being out in front, we will attract business and individuals to Westminster that need this level of service, and cannot get it elsewhere. Thus, providing high paying jobs opportunities, increasing the average income, and pushing property values up in our area. As well as allowing people to work where they live versus commuting out of the area every day.”

With Ting, “you are driving a Ferrari instead of a Chevette,” said Chiavacci at the council meeting.

Jeff Glass, the city’s public works director then presented several equipment and truck bids for the council’s deliberation and approval. Glass also asked for the approval of this year’s annual roadway resurfacing and paving contract. This past winter was hard on Westminster’s streets and the councilmembers are anxious to begin addressing the roadway repairs and improvements.

Abby Gruber, the director of recreation discussed with the mayor and council a project to rebuild the aging playground equipment at Dutterer Park. According to a release by Gruber, after an upcoming planning session, on “October 9, 2015, volunteers from The City of Westminster, The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster, and Habitat for Humanity, along with BGE will build a great new place for kids to play in one day. The project is in partnership with KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play to those who need it most.”

In other news, Utz reported that the Wakefield Valley golf course task force recently held its first meeting to develop long term planning for the use of the large property at the west end of town that will be transferred to the city in the near future.

There were no ordinances or resolutions – or old business to discuss and after departmental reports the meeting adjourned after a little over an hour. 
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