Minutes of TCA Annual Meeting, 2015

Minutes of Taylorstown Community Association
ANNUAL MEEETING Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Welcome. Current TCA President, Lauranne Oliveau, welcomed members and asked Supervisor Geary Higgins to speak briefly about his commitment to our region.

I. Reports.
Treasurer’s report. Lauranne presented the Treasurer’s report prepared by Elizabeth Callaham, who was out of town. During the last 12 months-to-date, TCA spent $400 more than it took in. This is typical of the last few years; we don’t quite cover our expenses; the Barn Dance is our major expense. Lauranne mentioned that it would be wise to look for ways to make money for TCA.

Keep Loudoun Beautiful report. Vice-President, Tami Carlow, presented a report from KLB in Taylorstown this year, which she organizes. We covered about 14 miles, collected 33 tires and 65 bags of trash, and various other abandoned property.

There was some discussion about how to prevent people from throwing old appliances down Furnace Mountain.

II. Local Civic Clubs & Groups.
Scenic River Advisory invitation.
Bruce Johnson explained that Catoctin Creek is a designated Scenic River and the Advisory Committee works to defend the creek from contamination, including upstream to Purcellville. Meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 4PM in the Lovettsville Library.

Taylorstown History Club invitation.
Phil Ehrenkranz spoke briefly about the History Club, a relaxed group uncovering local historical artifacts, records, and stories and led by David Whitmer. Meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at Richard Weaver’s house. To get on the evite list, send a message to richard.weaver@gmail.com

III. Update on John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge, Featherbed Lane.
Joan Linhardt, TCA’s Interested Party Representative for input to the bridge project, gave an overview. The bridge on Featherbed Lane, built before 1900, is one of the last truss bridges of its size still in use. It is on the Virginia Register and the National Register as an historic landmark. Thus, federal law section 106 requires public comment before changes are made. Unfortunately a renovation in 2000 did not work and the faults in the bridge structure have increased.
Supervisor Geary Higgins said, we want to have VDOT do the project because they have to abide by the Historic Register rules. They hosted one public input meeting March 26, 2015 and were – Geary, Joan, Phil, and others who attended agreed – very gracious and open to citizen input. Phil Ehrenkranz said it would be a mistake to treat VDOT as the enemy. Geary agreed that it looks very good they will be able to restore/renovate the bridge so it is both safe and remains authentic and on the Register.
All were invited to…
1. Come to the public input meeting
July 23, 6:30-8:30, at the Old School in Waterford.
2. Come to the John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge Naming Ceremony,
July 28, 11 am at the Featherbed Lane bridge. John Lewis was an Architectural Historian whose memory we honor by naming this bridge after him.

IV. Election.
Given no contention for any positions on the TCA Board, the President asked the members to vote on whether the election could be held by a show of hands. This passed and the existing slate of candidates was unanimously elected.
The officers remain unchanged: President, Lauranne Oliveau; Vice-President, Tami Carlow; Secretary, David Weintraub; Treasurer, Elizabeth Callaham.
At-large Board Members presently serving 2-year terms: Anne Larson; Patrick Ryan; Joan Linhardt.
At-large Board Members newly elected for 2 year terms: Judy Ross and Jonathan Tourtellot/Sally Bensusen (sharing a seat).

V. Presentation/Discussion: High-Speed Internet for Taylorstown?
Jonathan Weintraub gave a brief overview of why we do not have high-speed Internet access in Western Loudoun and what we might do about it.

Geography is our problem. Western Loudoun is sparsely populated. For providers, this means long runs and lots of infrastructure for few customers.

Federal Law may help. The FCC has classified the Internet as a utility. The big providers (Comcast/Verizon) are set up as service providers initially for cable TV; they don’t comply with regulations for a utility. Providers have to retool to provide mandated broadband.

“How can we lobby the Fed?” Jonathan asked. Jonathan met with Tim Dennis, our representative on the County Communications Commission (CC). Tim is a great resource. He put Jonathan in touch with the local providers. The most interesting are All Points Broadband, Waterford WISP, and Waterford Telephone Company. Unfortunately, unless we can approach these providers with numbers, they will treat us as individual subscribers, and the individual costs will be high.

With respect the the FCC we’re in limbo. The FCC hasn’t published regulations for localities to implement the “broadband utility” mandate, and the CC doesn’t have it in their scope to make a specific recommendation. The county isn’t lobbying the FCC for the Western part of the county. The more populous East has their broadband.

Time is not on our side. Don’t expect the Federal mandate to translate into implementation quickly. But we want to “Light up the dark fiber,” Jonathan said. Dark fiber is future broadband capacity that is sitting idle. A bunch of it was just laid down Taylorstown road.

So for now, we each have 2 options: go it alone or roll our own.
1. Go it alone is what we are all doing now (if we can get a signal): sign up for a local service (All-Points is the largest and gets 5-10 MB/sec, costing $80-$100/month per household).

2. Roll our own would be to jointly create a faster, bigger bandwidth rural cooperative. If we take $100/mo as a price point, then we need 100 households to join and we have $10K/mo to run our cooperative. We would need to purchase backhaul (that dark fiber) and build our own distribution with routers and repeaters. We could viably create a 5GHz public spectrum community wireless. It will take lots of engineering work and members being willing to have equipment on their property to repeat the signal to neighbors.
Lauranne mentioned that the TCA Board has discussed possibly using our small investment savings to help get such a project off the ground.

The TCA High-Speed Internet Committee (THIC?) was formed. Jonathan Weintraub, as Chairman, is joined by Patrick Ryan and Kevin Oliveau to explore the issue further and do a feasibility study for a Local High-Speed Cooperative.

As a first step in a feasibility study, a sign-up list was circulated during the meeting and the barn dance for people to indicate interest in participating in a local solution if one is developed.

Anyone who didn’t get chance –
To sign up as interested, please send your name, address, phone, and email to Jonathan Weintraub at pariahdogww@gmail.com.

VI. Upcoming Events:
Watch for news of Taylorstown Creek Day in the Fall.

Action Item: Lauranne promised to see that all the time/place/contact information presented at the meeting would be put up on the TCA website and sent out to the email list.