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Summit Will Address Linking Rural Communities to the World

PULLMAN, Wash. — The role of telecommunications in the survival of Washington’s rural communities is the subject of a summit conference to be held in Spokane, June 1-2.

“Getting Connected: Linking Our Small and Rural Communities to the World Through Enhanced Telecommunications” is being organized by Sen. Patty Murray, who will be the moderator.

Three Washington State University experts will be on the program with others, including Gov. Gary Locke, who will be the keynote speaker.

Scott Fedale, WSU information department chair, will provide an overview of telecommunications.

Fedale has spoken nationally and internationally on distance education and telecommunications. He has served on the telecommunications subcommittee of the Washington Rural Development Council for the past five years and has spoken at numerous conferences on rural telecommunication within Washington.

“This conference is particularly timely in light of President Clinton’s recent emphasis on expanding high speed Internet access in America,” Fedale said.

President Clinton recently issued a national call to action with goals of providing 21st century learning tools for every child in every school and creating digital opportunities for every American family and community.

Fedale said Washington needs the kind of commitment recently demonstrated in North Carolina. There, an agreement was announced between three major local home companies and the state of North Carolina to provide affordable high-speed Internet services to all of the state’s businesses and citizens within three years.

“This conference will bring together leaders of rural Washington communities, representatives of private sector telecommunications providers and government to focus on the rural connectivity problems,” said Fedale. Other WSU representatives on the program are Al Kowitz, chair of WSU Stevens County Cooperative Extension, and Dee Christiansen, telecommunicating program manager in WSU’s Cooperative Extension Energy Program.

Kowitz will be a panelist discussing “Voices from Communities in Washington State.” Christiansen will be on a panel discussing uses for enhanced telecommunications in telemedicine, distance learning, economic development, agriculture and teleworking.

Registration costs $60 plus $35 for those who attend a keynote dinner. To register by phone, call (206) 695-1964.

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