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Thank You, South Carolina!
Thanks to many of you, this second issue of SCIWAY News is being e-mailed to more than 8,000 South Carolinians. We appreciate your forwarding the first issue to so many of your friends and associates . . . and we also appreciate all of the subscription messages, lists of e-mail addresses, encouraging comments, and Web site addresses you've sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCINET Connects South Carolina Schools, Libraries to Internet
Last June, in response to the State Department of Education's Educational Technology Plan and Governor David Beasley's 1996 State of the State Address, the South Carolina General Assembly appropriated $10 million for connecting the state's K12 public schools to each other and the Internet. So far almost 700 of the state's 1,100 public schools have been linked to "SCINET" and the Internet, and this effort is being expanded to include county libraries and their branches.
SCINET, pronounced "sky-net," is an acronym for South Carolina Information Network – a collection of statewide computer, telephone, and video networks planned and managed by the State Budget and Control Board's Office of Information Resources.
Information Resources, in cooperation with the State Department of Education and local telephone companies, is linking individual schools to school district networks . . . and school districts to four regional network hubs located in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, and Greenville. Each of these hubs has a high-speed connection to the Internet through Info Avenue.
Schools that don't yet need high-speed connections – because they don't have a within-school network – are being provided a temporary dial-up connection.
The $10 million appropriated last year can be used to pay initial and ongoing network communication costs (telephone line charges) between schools and the Internet, but this money can't be used to develop within-school networks. To overcome this limitation, some 350 South Carolina schools have already sponsored "SCINET Days," which provide community volunteers an opportunity to help install network wiring inside schools. At least 50 more schools have scheduled SCINET Days this spring and summer – many next Saturday, April 26.
If you would like to help wire a school near your home, please call 1-888-SCINET1 (1-888-724-6381) . . . or contact a local school principal or your school district office. You don't need to be an expert – pulling wires requires lots of helpers!
South Carolina will be one of the first states in the nation to provide all of its public schools Internet access. This will be a significant accomplishment that can help improve education and better prepare the state's youth for careers in the Information Age. Connecting schools to the Internet is not a magical cure-all, and it's not nearly as important as teaching students how to think and write and speak well . . . but it is a promising step in the right direction – and something all South Carolinians can be proud of.
New South Carolina Web Sites
Richland County Web Site is Exceptional
While several South Carolina city governments have developed excellent Web sites, only one county government has one. But Richland County's Web site (http://www.richlandonline.com/) is as exceptional as it is unique. This site is attractive, well organized, and fast. Most importantly, it offers an impressive variety of useful, well written information about county government; county history; economic development; local school districts, colleges, and universities; and area cultural, recreational, and historical attractions – as well as a calendar of events. The county government section includes information about county departments and services, county council, council and committee agendas, public notices, job announcements, press releases, lots of telephone numbers, and even some e-mail addresses. All that's missing are on-line forms that residents can use to request county services, obtain licenses and permits, and pay fees, fines, and taxes.
Richland County's Web site is a forerunner of how government information and many public services will be delivered in the 21st century. As time becomes more precious and more South Carolinians gain network access, more local governments will allocate the resources necessary to provide their citizens (customers) convenient on-line information and services that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This will not only save individuals and businesses time and money, but it should also reduce government costs. None of this will happen overnight, but it will happen.
If you know of a South Carolina county government Web site that we've missed, please send its address to email@example.com. SCIWAY News will soon review some of the helpful city government websites that are beginning to dot South Carolina's Information Highway.
Upcoming Festivals, Shows, Events
For the latest information on upcoming South Carolina events, please see http://www.sciway.net/calendar.html.
Question of the Month
A new subscriber writes, "I really liked the first issue of SCIWAY News. What hardware and software do you use to produce it?"
Answer: Most of SCIWAY News is written with a ball-point pen on empty Hardee's bags as I drive along I-26. I-26 is the sort of road that provides you lots of opportunities to think. So when an idea comes to mind, I compose a draft paragraph in my head, then revise it several times. Once I'm happy with these few sentences, I rush to an exit or rest area where I can stop to write before I forget. The biggest drawback to this practice is that it takes me six hours to drive from Spartanburg to Charleston--even longer at night, as my inside light doesn't work and in many areas it's hard to find a street light.
Last Tuesday night I got a chance to explain all this to a state trooper . . . who had found me writing in front of my car's headlights in the unlit parking area between the Enoree and Laurens-Union exits. He had never heard of SCIway and was not impressed with my explanation, and he encouraged me to leave his patrol district quickly.
Which I did. I'd already forgotten most of the paragraph anyway.
Copyright © 1997. SCIWAY News is written by Rod Welch of James Island, South Carolina – with a lot of help from people throughout South Carolina.
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