The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has issued a $37,000 grant to Rend Lake College through its "Eliminate the Digital Divide" program. The money will be used to set up a traveling computer lab in three area hospitals.
According to Trudee Wynn, Resource Development Specialist at Rend Lake College, the money will be used to purchase 15 laptop computers and a cart to transport them to be used as a mobile community technology center. Wynn said RLC will schedule times during which the mobile computer lab will be set up at hospitals in Benton, Mt. Vernon and McLeansboro. The lab also will be set up at various times at the Independence One-Room Schoolhouse on the Ina campus.
The computers will have wireless Internet connections and the grant will allow for a lab technician to be on hand, Wynn said. In essence, the general public will be able to come to the lab at certain hours to use the computers as they need, whether it be for job searches or just Web surfing. There also may be specific computer training for businesses available at the lab.
The mobile lab will be set up for two five-hour sessions in each community each month. Hospitals were chosen to house the labs because of their central locations and for accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We saw this as a starting place for open labs throughout the community," said Wynn. Exact dates and locations of the computer labs will be publicized as they are set. There is no charge to use the computers during lab times and the labs are open to the public.
The cost of the entire project was estimated at $65,000. Governor Rod Blagojevich announced the grant in a press release dated February 23.