City seeking $9.2 million in stimulus grants to address digital divide
Lafayette Consolidated Government and LUS Fiber have applied for $9.2 million in federal grants to address Lafayette's digital divide. The city is seeking the funds from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. BTOP, funded by last year's American Recovery Act or "stimulus," is administering more than $4 billion in grants to support broadband deployment to under-served areas. Sen. Mary Landrieu recently announced Louisiana has been awarded $80 million to deploy more than 900 miles of fiber-optic network in rural, north Louisiana.
LCG, which is seeking funds through the second round of BTOP applications, has applied for two grants. In one, LUS Fiber proposes partnering with Je'Nelle Chargois' Heritage School of the Arts and Technology to expand on the school's Build-A-Computer Program, which provides low-income students who graduate from a computer literacy course with free computers. The grant application requests $5.3 million, which would go toward 55 direct or indirect jobs in providing 35,000 hours of computer training and 1,000 new PCs, as well as pay for two-year subscriptions to high speed Internet through LUS Fiber for graduates of the program.
The grant application notes that addressing the digital divide was one of the early goals of LUS Fiber and references a study conducted with UL Lafayette of Internet use in Lafayette that can serve as a baseline to measure the program's effectiveness. "From our standpoint," LUS Director Terry Huval says, "this is a perfect opportunity to take the community assets that we have and address the digital divide. Having learned about the work that the Heritage School of the Arts and Technology was doing, we thought it was a perfect match for what we would like to see done, which is get more Internet in the homes."
The other grant being sought by LCG is for $3.9 million and would be administerd by its Community Development department. The grant seeks to expand public computing centers in Lafayette, adding 164 new PCs for local public libraries, 12 for Lafayette's two senior citizen centers and 60 for the Lafayette Housing Authority to create computer centers within three of its housing developments. It would also fund 43 direct or indirect jobs. "This an excellent example of what we can do by working with other partners in the community," says new Community Development Director Ben Berthelot. "It's the kind of partnership that I envision hopefully doing a lot more of in the future."
LCG submitted the two grant applications yesterday. Officials estimate it could be between six to 12 months before BTOP announces its next round of grant awards.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.