SMIG connecting communities to the entire world

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2000

SMIG helps communities connect to each other and the world via cyberspace.

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

SMIG helps communities connect to each other and the world via cyberspace.

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Craig Jones told members of the Mower County League of Minnesota Cities just that last week.

The league members met for a quarterly meeting at the LeRoy Community Center.

Eight of 12 member-towns were represented.

Ed Koppen, mayor of LeRoy, welcomed the guests and the Rev. Steve Elderbrock gave the dinner prayer before Bob Watts of Travel Inn served the catered meal.

Then, Loren Swanson, a Brownsdale City Council member and vice president of the organization, introduced Jones, who works for the Hormel Institute.

Jones’ topic was SMIG, the Southern Minnesota Internet Group, which was formed in 1995. With large help from the Hormel Institute, SMIG’s founders sought to make the cyberspace a conquerable new world for people in small towns in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota as well as farm families.

"The Internet is a great tool for promoting communities," Jones said of the many Web pages being designed everywhere for towns.

LeRoy has such a page, according to Koppen and routinely uses it to advertise city services and programs, plus other resources, publicize community events and promote tourism and economic development.

In addition a SMIG-designed web page for the city of Stacyville, Iowa, has garnered national fame through its Web page for a unique one-of-a-kind Cows in the Corn Maze project to raise money for a new library.

But Jones said an emerging use of the Internet is dominating people’s interests.

"People can talk to government," he said. "We’re seeing more use of the Internet to send e-mail messages to government officials such as the Minnesota Legislature and local government can directly access state and federal government, too, when they need the help."

That observation of more Internet use to contact government was substantiated by comments from state Sen. Kenric Scheevel (R-Preston), another guest speaker.

"During the 2000 legislative session, I received more communications via the e-mail than letter for the first time ever," Scheevel said. "It’s a good communications tool."

Legislative update

During Scheevel’s portion of the program, he reviewed the 2000 legislative session, which saw the Shooting Star recreation trail receive $500,000 in new funding to complete a segment from Lake Louise State Park at LeRoy to Taopi.

In addition, the Grand Meadow school district received $3 million in state aid to assist with new school buildings of the monolithic dome design.

Scheevel also told the audience that the 2000 session saw the debut of a three-way power division.

"The Republicans control the House, the DFL controls the Senate and the World Wrestling Federation controls the governor’s office," he joked.

Scheevel was only partly kidding, because a unique three-way split of the state’s budget surplus saw Gov. Jesse Ventura, the House and the Senate each receive a share to pursue their specific priorities.

Tom Thelen, a field representative for the league, also addressed the Mower County city officials, updating them on municipal issues.

David Hillier, Mower County Third District county commissioner, explained the new countywide truancy program to debut this fall.

The new truancy officer will have authority for all five school districts in the county under the supervision of Tom Neilon, Mower County Correctional Services director.

According to Hillier, the county commissioners recognize truancy is a signal of possibly criminal activities to come in the lives of teen-agers at risk and dealing with truancy may forestall more problems to come.

Mower County Sheriff Barry J. Simonson updated the officials on the countywide addressing and mapping systems now nearing completion.

Mower County Auditor Woody Vereide reminded the city officials of more training to come for election judges in advance of the September and November elections.

Brownsdale’s Swanson, substituting for the county league vice president, Brian Price of Lyle, told the members an executive board meeting will take place 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in Rose Creek and the next quarterly meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Lyle.