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ValleyNet Listservs Under New Oversight

White River Junction — Vital Communities will assume the administration and oversight of ValleyNet’s online town and community discussion lists, known as listservs.

T he program will be managed by an advisory board of current listserv administrators and local industry experts. Vital Communities will maintain the lists as they function today and explore new opportunities to foster the creation of online communities in the Upper Valley.

Since 2004, when ValleyNet took over the Thetford listserv, the free discussion lists have grown to more than 20 towns. Recent growth has been even more dramatic, with the number of subscribers almost tripling in the past 18 months to more than 16,000, a news release says.

“The lists are the last legacy service of the old ValleyNet. Our sole focus is now the construction and operation of ECFiber, and the ValleyNet board has made the decision to transfer the lists to an organization with more resources to provide the care and feeding they deserve,” said Stan Williams, the current list coordinator and a member of the boards of both ValleyNet and Vital Communities.

Vital Communities will continue to expand the lists as a place where virtual communities can be created, Vital Communities Executive Director Mary Margaret Sloan said in the release.

“I am very impressed with the role the lists have played in fostering a sense of community by disseminating important information, efficiently linking buyers and sellers, and keeping residents connected and engaged with their neighbors and towns. I am confident they will continue to do so,” she said.

Posts often relate to local purchases and sales. Town administrators also use lists as an additional means of posting agendas or minutes, and they offer a forum for local comments, nonprofit event announcements, and occasional commercial postings.

They have served an occasional safety function in their communities, and after Tropical Storm Irene, many of the lists served a critical function in coordinating volunteer efforts.

Town lists are locally administered, so their rules require that posts come from citizens and relate to town-specific issues.

In response to a need for a forum addressing items of interest to the entire Upper Valley, a regionwide list was launched that now has more than 3,000 subscribers. For more information, go to vitalcommunities.org/discussionlists.htm.

Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization based in White River Junction, brings together citizens, organizations and municipalities to address community issues. ValleyNet’s mission has been to provide and facilitate community-based information resources. Most recently, its focus has been on ECFiber, which is working to bring community-owned broadband fiber optic connections to each resident in its 24 Vermont member towns.