Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sen. Pam Galloway and Rep. Jerry Petrowski Need to Hear about WiscNet from Their Constituents

State budget proposal would remove broadband access. (Wausau Daily Herald, 6/8/2011)

Excerpt: The Joint Finance Committee's action caught some off guard, including Joel VerDuin, director of technology and media services for the Wausau School District. Wausau West High School, Jefferson Elementary School and John Muir Middle School all would be connected to the broadband network.

"I was quite surprised by it," he said Tuesday. "We didn't have any kind of thought this would happen."

If the full Legislature approves the proposal, the school district would lose the opportunity for distance learning and video conferencing with NTC and lose the opportunity to become a WiscNet customer, which VerDuin said would save the district money and provide a greater amount of bandwidth for its Internet service. The district pays about $60,000 annually for the Internet, VerDuin said.

Gerard Klein, director of the City-County Information Technology Commission, said losing broadband Internet would mean a loss of the hospitals' capability for tele-medicine, and hamper city, county and other entities' ability to share services.

Mary Kluz, community resource development agent for UW-Extension in Marathon County, said losing the educational component could put rural areas at a disadvantage when it comes to Internet savvy. She and Klein also said jobs to install the broadband fiber would be lost.

State Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, said she learned about the proposal for the first time Tuesday and needed more information before she would comment. 
[Emphasis added.]

Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, said he's "looking at the language (of the bill) to see what's included and what the state statutes say."

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