Letter to the Editor

Have you noticed that Sharon Township has “Vote YES” and “Vote NO” signs popping up like late daffodils? It’s about universal access to reliable internet. We will vote on May 8 on a millage for broadband for everyone.

Now, many residents don’t have internet at all.  Signals can be weak due to rough terrain and trees, and the high expense and unreliability of service by for-profit companies puts people at a disadvantage. Wireless service just does not reach all of us. Without this basic technology that is common in more populated areas, students suffer, home-sellers get stymied, at-home businesses struggle, families can’t share photos and news, and farmers go without the latest technological advancements.

Wireless is a very poor hope for Sharon. It cannot currently reach everyone. To think that a company would commit their investment dollars in a lot of wireless towers for our sparse population is just magical thinking. Counting on some new satellite technology is just dreaming.

Broadband cable is proven, it is bound to last. According to Farm Bureau official John Delmotte, a public-private partnership like the Sharon effort is the only answer. He said, “I am a conservative man, personally and politically, always have been. But this lack of basic technology means that we are heading into a time of real disadvantage for rural people. The need is obvious. It seems a very large investment up front but look at the service you will get! And if you look at all we would pay in connection fees over the same amount of years, it will really pay off in the future. Sometimes you have to look at the greater good!”

I believe in the greater good. My family’s internet plods and gets interrupted by inclement weather, but we can manage. My employer in Grand Rapids assigns my work via a website. Personnel communicate by email. For research, continuing education and to keep in touch with distant family, it is essential to me. Yes, it’s too slow for streaming videos, and downloads can take hours.

This isn’t just about me. Our township officials have worked long and hard through controversy to bring this to the voters. They have done so in good faith. Opponents don’t tell the whole story. My perspective differs from the “No” campaign. I have never minded paying taxes to support good infrastructure such as a free public education for every child. Without that, eventually our whole society suffers.

Ann Hazlett, Assistant Secretary for Rural Development states, “E-connectivity is essential to the economic vitality and quality of life in rural communities.” People that invest their time and money to even the playing field for their neighbors can realize the good that they are doing. They are patrons. The word “Patronage” has the same root as this one: Patriotic.

Sharon township officials are happy to get real information for you. SharonbroadbandYES.com is a good source. I invite you to get the facts and then vote YES on May 8th to bring broadband to everyone in Sharon Township.

Kathleen Feldkamp Graddy

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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