Holly Pond council takes steps to improve computer, WiFi access ahead of school year

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The Holly Pond Town Council met Monday night, Aug. 3, 2020. (Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – Holly Pond Mayor Bill Oliver on Monday night offered two proposals to the town council that will increase the number of computers available at the Guy Hunt Library and expand WiFi availability to residents who may not have it or may not have enough to handle online classwork for the upcoming school semester.

The first proposal dealt with the number of computers currently available for use at the library, as many are spaced in such a way that only about half (less than 10) can be used safely. Oliver said this poses several problems, as Holly Pond Elementary School will be sending parents to the library to register their kids online and students who may not have consistent computer access during the school year will rely on the library’s computers to complete their online schoolwork.

To help ease these troubles, Oliver asked the council to consider purchasing a handful of laptops (possibly Chromebooks, as those are what the schools use) that library visitors can check out and use in the conference room if all regular computers are unavailable. While it did not officially decide what the budget for this initiative will be or how many laptops will be purchased, the council approved this idea unanimously.

The second proposal dealt with a lack of reliable internet that some residents face. While Oliver acknowledged that the Cullman County Board of Education planned to put WiFi access points on school campuses and buses, he said he is not sure how long it will take for this plan to be implemented.

To ensure that students have the internet access they need for online coursework (both for traditional learning and in the case of a shift to remote learning), Oliver said he has been talking to JTM Broadband and proposed an arrangement with them to provide public WiFi at Lions Club Park. The arrangement will only last through the end of the first school semester, possibly through Dec. 31, so incoming council members can decide what to do about it after the first semester has ended. He also specified that internet would only be provided until 10 p.m. every day to avoid people coming to the park late at night and excusing it by claiming they were just doing their homework. With a budget of $1,500-$2,000, the council also unanimously authorized Oliver to pursue this project.

Candidates who qualified for the Aug. 25, 2020 Municipal Election with no challengers (Charles Holcomb, Mike Skelton, Paul Brown and Gladys Wisener) were issued Certificates of Election Monday night. This included a separate certificate for Carla Hart, who went uncontested in her candidacy for mayor. Oliver is retiring. The only race on the Aug. 25 ballot in Holly Pond will be council, place 1, with incumbent Lou Thomas facing challenger Julie Ray. 

The council also:

  • renewed its sheriff’s deputy contract
  • finalized the list of poll workers for the Municipal Election, announced training sessions for them and voted to pay them the usual amount of $100 for their work on election day
  • announced it met with an architect to draw up rough plans for the senior center
  • set the date for the annual Christmas Cards in the Park as Dec. 12
  • announced the purchase of a new Ranger that can carry 35 gallons of disinfectant
  • announced it has started cleaning buildings around the park, including areas in the pavilions where sunlight can’t reach

 

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Heather Mann

heather@cullmantribune.com