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Home / Community Network News / Getting acquainted in Henderson County
Community network meeting
set for Nov. 14 at public library

11-6-00 CONTACT: Wally Bowen, 828-255-0182

A community meeting to introduce the Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Henderson County is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Henderson County Public Library.

As a not-for-profit community network, MAIN provides a wide array of community and economic development services, including low-cost Internet access for citizens and free Internet access at more than 60 WNC libraries and community centers. MAIN began offering dial-up 56k Internet access in Henderson County in October. More than 3,800 citizens of WNC use MAIN as their Internet service provider.

MAIN also provides free web-hosting for all local not-for-profit agencies and organizations.

"MAIN is very similar to the rural electric and telephone cooperatives of the 1920s and 30s," said Wally Bowen, executive director of MAIN. "By keeping our fees low, we can provide Internet access to rural citizens who otherwise could not afford access. And our free service at public libraries and community centers gives access to citizens who cannot afford their own computer," he said.

One of MAIN's most important roles, Bowen said, is providing free websites to local non-profit agencies and organizations. "This local content is the lifeblood of our community network. That's why we work so hard to recruit, train and match volunteers with local non-profits to assist them in creating their own website," he said.

Representatives of local non-profits as well as potential web-page volunteers are especially encouraged to attend the Nov. 14 meeting. Approximately one out of 10 MAIN subscribers becomes a community network volunteer. "We could not provide the technical support to our subscribers -- as well as the free websites for non-profits -- without the great work of our volunteers. It's inspiring to see how much they enjoy helping their neighbors or their favorite non-profit solve problems and communicate on-line," Bowen said.

MAIN was recently featured at the Rural Telecommunications Congress 2000 in Aspen, CO and at the Networks for People national conference in Washington, DC. MAIN was also cited for its innovative use of telecommunications to bring communities closer together in the annual Innovation Awards competition of the National Association of Development Organizations.

MAIN is also bringing economic development efforts to Henderson County such as the Blue Ridge Web Market, which allows local small businesses to market goods and services online. "The Blue Ridge Web Market is an old-fashioned public market. The only difference is that it exists entirely on the World Wide Web," Bowen said. Details on how Henderson County businesses can participate will be presented Nov. 14. In addition to Henderson, MAIN serves the counties of Mitchell, McDowell, Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, Polk, Haywood, Jackson, Swain, Macon, Graham, Clay, Cherokee and Qualla Boundary.

For more information, call 828-255-0182 or visit MAIN's website at . Application forms for Internet access are available at the Henderson County Library and its branches, Blue Ridge Community College, the Opportunity House, the Sammy Williams Community Center, and the Hendersonville Community Co-Op.