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Schools to review million dollar grant

Ironton school officials will host a town meeting next week to discuss details of a possible grant venture with Hewlett-Packard that would boost Internet technology throughout the city.

Friday, October 06, 2000

Ironton school officials will host a town meeting next week to discuss details of a possible grant venture with Hewlett-Packard that would boost Internet technology throughout the city.

"If we were to get this, they will assist us in developing a very extensive digital village concept and, once planned, assist us in implementing it," said Steve Kingery, superintendent of Ironton schools.

Leaders at Ohio University Southern Campus and Ironton City Schools are collaborating with representatives of other community organizations to develop the multi-million dollar grant proposal for funding from the company, one of the largest technology manufacturers in the world, Kingery said.

Ray Terry, a section manager at Hewlett-Packard’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., said the company is interested in investing up to $15 million in technical assistance and hardware to create three digital villages in the United States – including one in Ironton.

Terry, a native of Ironton, is serving as liaison between a newly-formed local planning committee and Hewlett-Packard.

What planning committee members need now are ideas from the public about what they want to see happen with their digital village, Kingery said.

They hope to get that information at a town meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in OUSC’s Bowman Auditorium in the Collins Center. The meeting also will be broadcast on Channel 2 (TV) and WOUB (radio). Viewers and listeners will have the opportunity to call in with questions and comments.

If the grant is approved, the digital village could include everything from new wiring to Internet connection possibilities that surpass what’s available today, Kingery said.

For example, it’s possible users of the future could access much more distance learning, parents could connect with schools and teachers, and the elderly could connect with doctors for consultation or stores for groceries delivered to their homes, he said.

If approved, the service would not replace existing Internet service providers but would reduce the city’s "digital divide" – the gap between those who have access to online information and opportunities and those who do not, Kingery said.

Ironton’s digital village will consist of an underlying broadband technology infrastructure by which the various "communities" in Ironton can be connected with each other and with the world via the Internet – schools, businesses, city and county government, hospitals, neighborhoods and churches, he said.

Ironton citizens will be able to use e-mail and the Internet in neighborhood centers, schools, the library, business centers and homes.

A major goal of the project also will be to make technology and the Internet available for low-income people at no charge.