Labor Day Roundup: White Spaces Tests

Libraries to test white-spaces devices • Demand for coal declining in Europe • N.C. Rural Center looks at drastically reduced budget and staff • The passing of a “water pionner”

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Testing White-Spaces Technology. Several rural library systems are among the six projects that have been chosen to test new “white spaces” technology to deliver broadband, according to Gigabit Libraries Network. White spaces are vacant TV spectrum that providers hope to use to supply broadband to underserved communities.

The test project will provide white-space devices to six library systems, which will test the equipment through the end of the year. The goal is to learn more about how to deploy the technology effectively.

Test sites will include libraries in Humboldt County, California; Delta County, Colorado; Pascagoula, Mississippi; multiple communities in Kansas and New Hampshire; and Skokie, Illinois.

White-space technology has the potential to beam broadband signals farther than conventional wifi, which proponents see as a plus for serving hard-to-reach rural communities.

Center for Rural Virginia Names New Director. Glen Sink, the founding executive director of the Center for Rural Virginia, is retiring. The center’s board has named Christy Tomlinson Morton, a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, as the new director. Morton will assume her duties September 1. Sink will retire after September 30 and will help with the leadership transition, according to a press release from the center.

Morton most recently served as deputy director for external affairs and policy development in the office of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

The Center for Rural Virginia is currently preparing for its annual convening of the Rural Summit and Rural Caucus. More information can be found here.

Coal on the Decline in Europe. Coal is entering a decades-long decline in Europe, where power companies are moving toward using wind, solar and hydro-electric to generate electricity, Reuters reports. Plants that do continue to burn coal are more efficient and burning less fuel, the story reports.

The decline in coal use is affecting the continent’s coal-mining industry. UK Coal, Britain’s largest producer, sought government help to avoid bankruptcy earlier this year. The European Union’s largest producer, Kompania Weglowa of Poland, is also considering asking for a government bailout.

The decline in demand for coal will also affect U.S. exports to Europe, Reuters reports.

N.C. Center Prepares to Slash Budget, Staff. The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center would cut its budget by more than 90% and eliminate up to three quarters of its staff under a restructuring plan the center’s board discussed earlier this week, WRAL-TV reports.

The governor and state Legislature eliminated the N.C. Rural Center’s state funding this year. The center provided a variety of economic development grants to projects in 85 North Carolina counties.

Under the new budget proposal, the North Carolina center would focus on making small-business loans. Some of the Rural Center’s previous grantmaking programs are shifting to the state’s Commerce Department, which might hire a portion of the center’s displaced employees to administer those grants, WRAL reports.

A Water Pioneer. Bill Secrest, an Oklahoma Water Pioneer, died this week in Tulsa at the age of 84. A former small-town city manager and mayor, Secrest served as director of Oklahoma’s Rural Water District 4 for 20 years until his retirement in 1997. An obituary in the Tulsa World notes that Secrest became identified with rural water management. He served on the boards of national and state rural water associations and helped found the Oklahoma Rural Water Enrichment Foundation, which awards scholarships to rural students. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the governor honored Secrest as a “water pioneer” in 1998.

 

 

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