Garrett County aims to boost local food market

OAKLAND, Md. (AP) — Garrett County says it wants to expand production and consumption of locally produced food.

The county’s economic development agency is surveying food producers and distributors, as well as wholesalers, buyers and restaurants, to better understand their challenges and opportunities. The survey process began Aug. 6 and continues through the end of the month.

Read More Here:  http://wtop.com/food/2015/08/garrett-county-aims-to-boost-local-food-market/

Survey asks county businesses, households for input on Internet use

Questionnaires being sent to 1,000 homes

Kristin Harty Barkley Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Board of Education member Mike Llewellyn has high-speed cable Internet service at home, and for the most part, it serves him well.

But when it comes to uploading files — say, a lesson for one of the law classes he teaches at Allegany College of Maryland — it takes “forever” to accomplish a task, Llewellyn said.

Those are the kind of details that officials want to hear from residents and business owners in Allegany County as they gather information about Internet usage here.

Written surveys are being sent to 1,000 homes in the next several weeks, and an online survey will soon be available to the business community, said Joanne Hovis, president of Columbia Telecommunications Corp. (CTC), which is conducting Allegany County’s Broadband Feasibility Study. The company is doing a similar study in Garrett County.

“We’re asking a wide range of questions around what these businesses do with connectivity, what they currently buy, what their satisfactions are, what they think is important, what they feel is missing,” said Hovis, who updated the BOE recently on local broadband initiatives.

Slow upload speeds are a common complaint from those who use the Internet for educational or economic development purposes, Hovis said, adding that in the U.S., the Internet has traditionally been viewed as “entertainment.”

“Educational applications and economic development applications — like if someone wants to back up the server for their business remotely — are really stymied by the fact that upload speeds are so slow,” she said.

“… I think there’s a growing understanding about the importance of home broadband as part of an education. We frequently in Washington hear people say, ‘You can’t apply for a job unless it’s online these days.’ Increasingly what we are told is that it’s very hard to do homework without online resources.”

Maryland is in the midst of a $115 million project called One Maryland Broadband Network to improve broadband access across the state.

The Allegany County BOE received a $50,000 grant last fall from the Appalachian Regional Commission to conduct a feasibility study for expanding the county’s broadband infrastructure. Though initial objectives are to bring broadband to all the county’s schools, the project could potentially benefit the entire community.

Western Maryland seems to be “engaged and interested” in enhancing Internet connectivity, Hovis said. In Garrett County, an online business survey had a 44 percent participation rate, while a written residential survey had a 30 percent response rate, she said.

“Our survey house said they had never seen anything like that,” Hovis said, adding that a typical response rate is around 10 percent. “So there is a very high level of motivation in Garrett County when it comes to broadband, particularly the small businesses are aware of what they don’t have and what they need … I’ll be really interested to see if we’re matching that in Allegany County.”

CTC expects to have the Allegany County Broadband Feasibility Study completed sometime this summer.

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@timesjavascript:void(0)-news.com.

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Determined Oaklander Joins Ranks Of Maryland's Blind Business Owners

Jan. 13, 2011

by Peggy Santamaria

Before charting a course for the New Year that stretches ahead, people often reflect on the year that has just ended and review accomplishments, losses, lessons learned, and moments treasured.

Robin Fife may look back on 2010 as a time of incalculable loss and joyful gain. Both led her to triumph over challenge. During the previous year, she achieved a lifetime dream of operating her own business but also faced the death of her mother, following a long illness. These events are magnified by the fact that Robin Fife is blind.

Following her education at the Maryland School for the Blind, Fife returned home to her mother’s house in Oakland and began a career in the sheltered workshop at Appalachian Crossroads, where she was employed as a mailroom clerk. With the assistance of aides, she tended to the tasks of affixing labels to envelopes using a guide and weighing each piece of mail on an audio scale.

“I always enjoyed my work in the mail room, but I wanted to do something more,” Fife said. Her bubbly personality and sense of independence afforded her the confidence to research other job opportunities. Assisted by Appalachian Crossroads, Fife interviewed with several employers, but did not succeed in finding a position that matched her strengths in the workplace.

Scott Hollingsworth, director of Day Programs at Appalachian Crossroads, was aware of Fife’s desire to expand her career.

“Robin has a lot of initiative. She wanted to create her own future,” Hollings-worth said. “So she set about finding an opportunity to control her own schedule, to set her own goals, and to do something that would allow her to measure her success based on her individual effort.”

When former Appalachian Crossroads trainee Roger Uber moved to Virginia, the business he started, Sunshine Vending Service, became available for acquisition.

“The vending machine business seemed like a good fit for Robin,” said Hollings-worth. “She would need assistance from a job coach, someone to be her ‘eyes,’ but with that, she thought she could be successful.”

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322 Alder Street
Oakland, MD 21550
Telephone: (301) 334-3724
Fax: (301) 334-1028
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