By Lacy Hilliard
The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development division recently provided several East Tennessee counties with a significant amount of grant money in an effort to make higher level technologies available to residents through their local public libraries. Johnson County was among the recipients of this grant.
Johnson County Public Library received $10,572 from the federally funded grant which was coupled with an $8,650 state provided grant to purchase and install 11 computers, a projector, a router, and an assistive laptop with a mobile cabinet.
USDA Rural Development State Director, Bobby Goode said, The disproportionate economic hardship many rural Tennesseans have endured as a result of the recession is no secret. Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to have access to the training and other resources available with high speed Internet at home. This grant was founded in an effort to increase the availability of technology to lower income residents. It is the hope of the USDA that this grant will help lower income residents have better access to these important technologies.
Public libraries are a natural place to bridge this gap (because) more adult workers turn to them every day; to search for jobs online, to access training to expand their skills, to apply for assistance, and to seek answers to health, legal, and other issues aggravated by unemployment, said Goode.
This isnt the first time Johnson County has received funding from programs sponsored by the USDA Rural Development division. In 2011 the Brownlow Utility District, the Carderview Utility District, and the Cold Springs Utility District all received USDA sponsored loans used to add water utility extensions and make necessary repairs. Many Johnson County residents have also been assisted by the USDA residential loan program which provides assistance to low income residents to qualify for a mortgage. Last year the USDA invested more than 2.5 billion dollars in assisting 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses across 158 communities. To contact the USDA Department of Rural Development to find out more information about how the USDA can help your farm, business, or residence you can call the USDA Rural Development information hotline at 1-800-670-6553.
Johnson County Public Library is thankful for the progress this grant will promote. Starting Tuesday, May 1, at 2:00 p.m. the library will hold a beginner level computer course, the first of many to follow. This course and others will be offered to residents that might not otherwise receive this training in an effort to boost job related qualifications. If youre interested in enrolling in this class or others like it you may contact the library at 727-6544.
By Lacy Hilliard