By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Ste. Genevieve County will offer a 30 percent match, should the Ste. Genevieve County Library receive a grant for broadband internet hot spots.
Shawn Long, executive director of the library, approached the County Commission about the issue at last Thursday’s commission meeting.
He explained why he is not pursuing “hot spot” boxes, small devices that can be checked out to library patrons, then returned.
“A lot of libraries have hot spots that they can check out,” Long said. “However I’ve done a little bit of research on those and the issue is that they can harbor bed bugs. I would rather not being bed bugs into the library. Then we would have to freeze them and all that stuff.”
He also noted that only one patron at a time can use it.
Instead, Long approached Big River Communications about the possibility of setting up wifi hot spot locations throughout the county.
“Perry County actually did this with school buses, where they set up school buses in front of a building. They ran an electric line, an extension cord. People could pull in and connect to the internet that way.”
Instead of school buses, Long would prefer finding locations around the county to set up wifi hot spots.
“That way, if we have what happened in the past school year, where school is canceled ad they do distance learning, not only can kids go to these hot spots, but hopefully college kids who might be doing work from home who might not have wifi [could also use it],” Long said.
He said he had also spoken to Missy Sutton, with Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, who “is also very excited” about the idea. He said many patients have been unable to take advance of the telehelp sessions the hospital now offers on line.
“I think this is a great way of us being able to serve the population in the most effective way possible, without limiting it. If we bought 15 hot spots and checked them out, we’d be limited to 15 people.”
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson asked for further clarification.
“Basically, a hot spot would be basically a piece of equipment that would have a password and you would connect to it,” Long said.
Nelson asked how close one had to be to a hot spot. Long said “probably within the same parking lot.”
He said he hopes to find 10 to 15 spots. He ants to find the best locations.
Nelson asked what kind of match.
“There is no match,” Long said. They do suggest that I at least reach out and if we can have support from the CARES Act money that we have here, that will make us look even better, to be able to get the money from them.”
He said he would be able to apply for up to $30,000.
“We would basically put the items on permanent loan,” Long said. “So, if we set up at Weingarten church, it would show that the hospital is checked out to Weingarten church. And that is how we would get the funding and be able to justify doing it this way, rather than putting up hot spots willy nilly.”
While the most Long could apply for would be $30,000, he said it would probably only be a fraction of that.
Nelson wanted to clarify taht if Long was able to attest that he could obtain a good matvhing figure from a local entity that he woudl stand a much better chance at getting the grant. Long said that that was the case. Nelson followed up by asking if a figure higher than 25 perceht might help the cause even more. Long siad it probably would.
The commisson then voted to support the application and to pledge a 30 percent match.
“The stuff you’ve done is amazing,” Nelson told Long. “You’re doing a hell of a job.”
KREITLER GIVES UPDATE
ON LICENSE OFFICE
Dena Kreitler, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce, called to give an update on the chamber’s bid to secure the state contract to reopen the county license bureau.
It has been closed since March.
“I have been checking in every day,” Kreitler said. “No one has been awarded the contract yet. I really don’t know what their time frame is.”