Internet group offers help for nonprofit Web pages
By Pete Zamplas
Times-News Staff Writer
Mountain Area Information Network will let nonprofit groups in
Henderson County build free Web sites and apple growers and other
business people to find markets through local discounted Internet
MAIN, a nonprofit itself, has operated five years and last month
expanded its Internet cooperative to Henderson County. It now serves
about 4,000 subscribers in 14 mountain counties.
The service is needed in rural areas lacking a big customer base,
resulting in many counties having little local dial-up access and
instead costly long-distance service, MAIN's Executive Director
Wally Bowen said. Previously, Henderson County MAIN subscribers had
to use a long distance Buncombe County number. Bowen spoke Tuesday
to nonprofit representatives and others in the Henderson County
MAIN is the only Internet cooperative he knows of that has
survived without getting government money beyond a startup grant, he
Free Web sites for locally based nonprofits is a key, and MAIN
can help design them if needed, Bowen said. Groups do not have to be
tax-registered groups, but should demonstrate their authenticity, he
"If you're a legitimate group of citizens doing good in the
community, we want to help you," Bowen said.
Social justice, social action and cultural awareness are among
group categories. The Environmental and Conservation Organization of
Henderson County is among the first groups in the area to have a Web
site through MAIN.
ECO Executive Director Mary Jo Padgett said, "They've helped us,
and we wanted to help them get going."
MAIN has set up free Internet use in more than 60 area public
libraries and community centers.
The group also targets homebound people who lack computers.
Pathways for Independent Living trains the people on refurbished
machines donated from an area technician and given to the people,
Bowen said. MAIN then provides them with free Internet access.
MAIN's Web site, www.main.nc.us, lists Asheville-area events and
weather plus the links to area businesses and community groups.
Modem speed is 56K. Subscription fees are $150 a year, but are free
for nonprofits and discounted for financially needy and disabled
Apple growers can reach restaurants and roadside stands to market
their produce, Bowen said. Blue Ridge Web Market categories are arts
and crafts, lodging, health, farm and garden, general store and
services for hire. Each group's menu has a brief description of each
business, and the linked pages show product photos, other data and
order forms. Bowen hopes to add credit card purchasing within six
MAIN will apply for a license for an FM station next spring from
among signals opened for community stations. Although the station
would only broadcast about seven miles, MAIN can relay its signal
through a "webcast."
For further information, call 255-0182 or log on to
Contact Zamplas at Pete.Zamplas@hendersonvillenews.com.