Rayville mayor’s office takes lead in going wireless in northeast Louisiana

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Pilcher, Dr. Cynthia F., Barnes, James, Hatch, Dora Ann  |  9/22/2009 1:08:12 AM

News Release Distributed 09/21/09

RAYVILLE, La. – “It’s up. It’s live. It’s running.” With those words, the Rayville mayor’s office became the first governmental entity to be connected to wireless Internet service through the Louisiana Delta Initiative’s Bricks to Clicks for Local Governments program, said Dr. James Barnes, director of the LSU AgCenter's Delta Rural Development Center.

Broadband Internet connectivity is one of the Louisiana Delta Initiative’s projects, Barnes said. The LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center have led the development of initiative in collaboration with economic development groups in northeast Louisiana.

James Cupit, LSU AgCenter regional technical support specialist, conducted a live demonstration of the wireless technology Sept. 18. He had configured the wireless router the previous Friday and said the system can accommodate 50 computers.

“This will give rural communities the same access as our urban friends,” said State Rep. Charles “Bubba” Chaney, of Rayville, who attended the event. “This puts us in a position to be on a more equal playing field.”

“We will be able to conduct business across the United States,” said the Rev. James Smith, Rayville economic development director. “This opens up the town to a national level.”

The Louisiana Delta Initiative covers the cost of the router, and the Internet fees are the responsibility of the governmental entity, Barnes said.

The Rayville mayor’s office now can be used as an emergency operations center, a site for meetings of community groups and boards and tourism initiatives, as well as a classroom for e-business and leadership courses conducted by the LSU AgCenter, Barnes said.

“Speakers can now take their audience to Web sites,” added Dr. Cynthia Pilcher, LSU AgCenter community rural development agent.

“The room can be used for business prospects and grant writing,” said Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter community rural development agent. Residents who want to start an e-business may then be encouraged to develop their own Web sites, she added.

The Civic Center in Rayville is the next site that will go live, Barnes said.

“This is a low-maintenance program,” Barnes said, adding that access is password-protected.

Long cables for connectivity are now eliminated, said town clerk Lorraine Scott, and the additional location for wireless access will help when there is overflow at the library.

At a Louisiana Delta Initiative meeting in Rayville earlier this year, David Creed, executive director of the North Delta Regional Planning and Development District, said broadband Internet connectivity would affect all of the fields important to the initiative – education, health care, jobs and entrepreneurship.

To learn more about the Louisiana Delta Initiative, contact Barnes at 318-428-3571 or jbarnes@agcenter.lsu.edu. The group’s Web site is www.lsuagcenter.com/drdc.

Mary Ann Van Osdell
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