Friday, December 11, 2009

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas was among the first states to receive federal stimulus grants for expanding access to broadband Internet services.
Connect Arkansas is a private non-profit organization that has been officially designated by the state to receive stimulus funds for expansion of broadband. The organization received about $2.1 million in federal grants in October, which it will spend to map the regions in Arkansas where infrastructure is lacking for broadband access.
The head of Connect Arkansas told legislators that he hoped more grant money would be awarded in the next two months. Greater access to broadband Internet services has been a legislative priority for years. One reason Arkansas was among the first to receive federal stimulus grants is that legislators and state agencies have already put in a lot of time and work toward providing broadband access in remote areas.
Expanded access to broadband Internet service is an economic development issue. Isolated areas without Internet access are unlikely locations for modern industries that must compete globally.
Greater access to the Internet has become essential for communities that want to provide an adequate education to its young people. For people of all ages, the availability of the Internet is now a quality of life issue. In greater numbers than ever, retirees who want to stay connected with family members are using email, Facebook and social media.
Legislators on the Advanced Communication and Information Technology Committee are working with Connect Arkansas.
Broadband is another name for high speed Internet, which is faster and more powerful than dial up. When a household is connected to broadband, it doesn't tie up the telephone line. Dial up is limited in the amount of computer memory it can transmit, and could be compared to watering the garden through a drinking straw.
The need for broadband access grows daily because web sites are constantly getting "bigger," in terms of how much computer memory they require to open and view. It's common for web sites to have numerous videos, photo galleries, graphics, charts, detailed maps and audio.
Tax Incentives for Water Conservation
The state Natural Resources Commission has approved tax incentives for landowners in seven counties in east Arkansas who build water conservation projects such as impoundments. Landowners who level fields and re-use runoff for more efficient use of groundwater also may qualify.
The goal of the incentives is to reduce demand on the aquifers underneath parts of Clay, Craighead, Cross, Greene, Lee, Poinsett and St. Francis Counties. Farmers in the western portions of those counties may be eligible for the tax incentives.
Flu Shots
The state Health Department has received more flu vaccinations, both for the seasonal strain of the flu and the H1N1 strain. You can go to the agency's web site to find locations and schedules when the shots are available.
This is the address:
Some vaccinations are free and there is a charge for some others, depending on when and where you go. Remember to bring insurance, Medicare or Medicaid cards.

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