Unlock the door

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2006

News-Herald Editorial

The landscape is changing.

Caught in a world of technological advances, it’s either hop onboard or find yourself struggling just to play catch-up.

Hats off to the Bertie County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education for not allowing the latter of those two scenarios to occur.

Last week, those two elected boards in Bertie County sat across from each other in a face-to-face meeting. While it’s a known fact that these two boards have not enjoyed the best relationship in the past, they set aside those differences of opinion for this one day and set forth on a bold adventure.

At stake is the future of Bertie County….it’s children.

A plan is currently under consideration where the county hopes to build a technology based infrastructure that will connect low-income residents to the information and the tools which will help them improve their lives.

That two-fold plan starts in the Bertie public school system where the goal is to provide each middle and high school student with a laptop computer. In order for that goal to realize its full potential, the second part of the plan must come together, that of offering affordable high-speed internet access to these low-income households.

To call this a bold undertaking is a huge understatement.

Is it possible for an economically-challenged county to pull off such a feat?

With guidance from those entities knowledgeable about such technological matters and with the blessings of both boards and the countywide community, the answer is yes.

One Economy Corporation, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization, wants to guide Bertie County through this complicated process. They appear to have a good track record, tackling a similar project in rural Greene County that has produced unbounded success.

However, that success is not just limited to education.

By offering high-speed, wireless internet access throughout the county, Bertie opens the door on economic growth as well. In today’s world of business and industry, having access to high-speed internet is just as important as offering the normal infrastructure items n roads, water and sewer.

But it’s the children of Bertie County who will benefit the most if this project comes to life.

As Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb so accurately said it, “it’s a classroom without walls.”

The power of learning is what makes the internet such a valuable tool. Armed with laptop computers, a vast world of education awaits the young minds of Bertie County schoolchildren.

Bertie has a unique opportunity to break new ground in the fields of education and economic development. It has a chance to offer affordable, high-speed, wireless internet service to upwards of 90 percent of its population. It has a chance to offer its citizens the ease of shopping at home, having medical questions answered online and even help adults shape their futures by landing the right jobs.

The Bertie Commissioners and Board of Education hold the key to unlocking this technological door. We encourage them to open that door, allowing for unequaled success in the classroom and unlimited economic possibilities.