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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EcoSnoops - a Home for the Tattletales of Society

EcoSnoops Mission statement:
EcoSnoop's mission is to help our communities heighten awareness of opportunities to be more green, save energy, improve treatment of animals, and even fill pot holes. Leveraging the power of the community, EcoSnoops use the web or their phones to capture clear pictures of a problem and post these pictures on a community website so that building owners and others can take action.
There is also a statement:
EcoSnoop is not about picking sides in the environmental or climate change debate. EcoSnoop helps identify opportunities for making improvements that help companies and people reduce cost, waste and inefficiency. McKinsey Consulting has identified Energy Efficiency as the best and cheapest form of energy. Energy Efficiency often payback quickly, putting cash into our pockets to use for things we would rather do. Just as many people did not know what to use a personal computer for in the early 80's, so to do many people not realize how much energy can be saved in their daily life.

For those that feel strongly that climate change is man made, EcoSnoop offers the least costly method for reducing carbon emission - Energy Efficiency. For those that believe dependence on foreign sources of energy puts a nations security at risk, EcoSnoop offers the least costly method for reducing dependency on foreign sources - Energy Efficiency.

The Hound - OK, I have been fair and placed a link with a mission statement and an explanation of what EcoSnoops purports to be about. I have even been known to go around this city and film scenes of buildings where there are problems, but only as a manner to show where I see hypocrisy when it comes to code enforcement. What I see here is what can be construed as one of the major problems facing our country today. Government feeling that all property belongs to them and private property owners only have custodial rights granted at the behest of Big Brother Government.

What has happened to our country? It is this type of impersonal mentality that creates walls between human interaction and bonding. This reminds me of elementary school, when the teacher would set someone up at the chalkboard to take names when they would leave the room. Would that person not always go on a power trip? Was it closer akin to justice or a kangaroo court?

We have abdicated our rights to Big Brother Government and no longer value human interaction or consideration for the rights of our neighbors. It is all about ones personal relationship with the government and this is what has created the "Nanny State." This is exactly the vision espoused by George Orwell in the book 1984.

Is it not my right to burn lights in my house if I want to at the time of day of my choosing, as long as I pay my bills? These people want to tell you what to do with your property. It will start out docile, as a "suggestion," as a method of conditioning, but eventually you know the sanctions are coming. This is what I have been talking about. This is what I have been preaching.

This lady is telling you to snap a picture with your Iphone and the application will automatically send it to God knows who and it will use a GPS tracker to send individuals to your property to "suggest" ways that you can be more eco-friendly. She talks about filing complaints and reporting offenses. She talks about collecting data of past offenses, publicizing cases, and getting others involved. Joseph Goebbels would be so proud.

When are people going to stand up for individual rights? Is it necessary to continuously head down this path? We have been down this road throughout human history and it never turns out well. Let's stop this before it gets out of control. It is one thing, if someone is harming you, but it is another to overtly harass people over their private property.

I understand that code enforcement is a balancing act, because sometimes people don't take care of their property and it affects yours, and they won't do anything to resolve the problem. But, we all know the difference between real issues and busy-body, nagging, never happy neighbors. It is time to delineate between the two through a common sense approach. We don't need third parties tattling on others. If you have a problem, don't take out the Iphone to Snoop, take it out to call the person you have the problem with and have a moment of human bonding. If it isn't worth this initial approach, then it's a non-issue anyway. Liberty isn't easy. It's something we have to work at every day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Unfortunate Reality About Unresponsive Government

The health care bill that just passed in a process that only a parliamentarian could love is disturbing to many as much, or more for the process than the particulars of the bill. Many, myself included, are appalled that the will of the people wasn’t much of a concern and the phrase “ram it down our throats” was used daily. There is now an effort to go to court(s) to challenge the law’s constitutionality. While the mandate to make people purchase insurance, whether or not they want or can afford it, is suspect, most of the law, while odious, is probably not unconstitutional according to the view of the lawyers that actually interpret it.

I believe that we are now at an inflection point in our Nation’s life and this bill has brought some flaws in our Constitution to focus. Our country’s fundamental document was carefully and brilliantly crafted and is a remarkable piece of work. But as time went on, changes were made in response to the Nation’s problems and changing concerns. Slavery was abolished, taxation was changed, alcohol was banned then brought back and so on. Now we have arrived at a point where it has been altered in ways that is not in touch with either the founding fathers or the will of citizens today.

As I see it there are three fundamental problems with the law of the land today, mainly due to the packing of the Supreme Court by FDR and changes they allowed. First is the establishment of the Federal bureaucracy that actually writes the law or “implementing language” as it is sometimes referred to. Secondly, is the tortured use of the Commerce clause of the Constitution. Thirdly, the balance of powers between the branches is out of whack.

The original Constitution specified that Congress could not delegate its law making powers. This put a real limit on how many laws and how complicated a law the Feds could come up with. If every Congressman had to read and understand the laws they were voting on there would be a lot less Federal intrusion into daily life and they couldn’t pass the buck when bad law was made. Until the law was changed so that Congressional staffers and regulatory bodies actually wrote the law you couldn’t have someone like John Conyers saying “what good is reading the bill?”, or the memorable line by Nancy Pelosi saying they would have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. Nowadays the parties leadership sign off on a bill and most Congressmen just follow their leadership without a full knowledge of what is in it.

The Commerce Clause, in my opinion, has been twisted way beyond what I think was the original intent. Obviously, the Federal government needs to regulate commerce between the States. But if you are in one State, and the dentist is in the same State filling a cavity, it is ridiculous to suggest this should be governed by the Feds because the light being used to peer into your mouth was not made here as well. While some good things have come about due to the use of the Commerce Clause, such as Civil rights, it has been tortured beyond it’s bounds and is a wedge to push Federal power into just about anything they want.

Finally, the Founding Fathers intended for the people to have the final say. The Supreme Court has a powerful role to play in interpreting the law but the people have the right to amend it. The President is a powerful figure, but he too serves the people and is sworn to defend the Constitution, Congress is making itself irrelevant by ceding power to regulatory bodies and staffers. Unless these things are brought back into balance, it is the people’s right and duty to take back the power and restructure it.

This health care law has exposed the flaws not only of the people who have jammed, bribed, and threatened it through, but the system itself. Every now and then every person, company, and indeed, country has to examine itself, look at where you started and where you’ve arrived and decide how to move forward from here. We have long established problems to fix and the road will not be short or easy. But it is too dangerous to be governed by the whims of men rather than a Constitution that stipulates the rules ALL must live under.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chamber "Annual Meeting & BBQ", Featuring Hal Rowe - 03-25-10

Video courtesy of
©2010 Pat Appleson Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved, Used By Permission
Pat stated that Hal was the hit of the whole program.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Google Request for Information website - Help spread the word

Google Request for Information website - This is where you go to see the information submitted to Google as our community attempts to lure Google's initiative to implement an ultra highspeed fiber-optic community for testing purposes in the United States. Please help continue to spread the word.

Join the mission at the sites below:
1) Woogle Twitter Account
2) Woogle Facebook Account

We should all give a hand to Team Woogle for the hard work put into creating this RFI, getting the municipalities to work together, and generating the enthusiasm that has permeated throughout the area focused around this initiative. Kudos!!!

The work is not done. It is now time for each of us to do our part and take the ball and run with it. We need to keep generating the enthusiasm. We need to understand that no matter what happens, we need to continue working with other people and other communities in cooperation to create cultural and economic progress for all, especially in the uncertain economic times we are facing.

A message from Catawba County's Information Director Terry Bledsoe (The Chairman of the Catawba County Future Economy Council): It's Simply "Magic"

Below are links to the history of this movement according to the Hickory Hound:
City of Hickory - Thinking Big with a Gig

I have a Dream - A 21st Century Hickory

Woogle - How You can Help Us Get Google Ultra High Speed Broadband

3,040 Facebook Fans of the Woogle Initiative - Team Woogle meets with FEC
3/9/2010 - Woogle Town Hall meeting tonight done. Onto Lenoir Thursday night
Google - Come make History in Hickory!!!
Hickory's Diaspora - Bring Home the Scattered Seeds
Team Woogle's Final Push - Before Hickory City Council - 3/23/2010

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of March 23, 2010

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.

At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 3/23/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below

Invocation by Alderman Hank Guess

Consent Agenda:
A. Call for Public Hearing to Amend Chapter 20 Nuisances, Sections 20-1, 20-2 and 20-3 of the Hickory City Code (Authorize Public Hearing for April 20, 2010) - Said authorized public hearing will be to consider the proposed amendments to Chapter 20 Nuisances of the Hickory City Code which relates to graffiti, junked motor vehicles and chronic violators of the nuisance ordinance.

The Hound thinks that we need to keep an eye on this. This was addressed at the January 5, 2010 City Council meeting. I applaud the city for the fact that they are proposing to focus on making property owners take care of their graffiti issues. I also appreciate that they have moved to an understanding about the issue of absentee owners. I do have reservations about the discussions involving partnering with owners to spend money on cleaning graffiti up -- that could legitimately cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. If we are going to get involved in cleaning graffiti, I would rather get a volunteer-force from the community and see how we can help expedite this cleanup work. We have volunteer forces help pick up litter all of the time. What's the difference?

B. Proclamation Declaring the Month of April, 2010 as “Fair Housing Month” in the City of Hickory

C. Approval of Community Appearance Grant to Victor Van De Klashorst for Property Located at 715 Highland Avenue, SE in the Amount of $2,490.07 - The Hickory Community Appearance Commission approved the application of Victor Van De Klashorst for a Community Appearance Grant for the property located at 715

Highland Avenue SE. The owner’s plans are to improve the visual appearance of the property by installing two new doors, replacement of one existing door and eight existing windows along with repairing the damaged fascia and eves. The total amount of these improvements is estimated to be $8,717.73. The Community Appearance Commission met on February 22, 2010 and they unanimously voted to recommend grant funding in the amount of $2,490.07 instead of the initial amount requested of $4,358.86. The CAC felt the proposed new 10’ X 12’ commercial door was not eligible for funding. The CAC recommends grant approval.

D. Approval of the 2010 Urgent Repair Program Grant and Assistance Policy and Procurement Policy for Submission to the NC Housing Finance Agency - The City of Hickory Community Development Department applied in November 2009 for funding through the NC Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair Program and has been awarded $37,500 to assist a minimum of eighteen eligible homes with urgently needed repairs in an amount not to exceed $5,000 per housing unit. The City of Hickory will provide $37,500 in matching funds available from the Rental Rehabilitation program income. The NC Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) requires the preparation and approval of an Assistance Policy and Procurement Policy explaining the guidelines which will need to be submitted to the NCHFA.

E. Acceptance of Fire Prevention and Safety Grant for Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in the Amount of $69,120 - The Hickory Fire Department by approval of City Council submitted an application on October 6, 2009 for the Fire Fighters Fire Prevention and Safety Grant for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. On February 24, 2010 the Hickory Fire Department was notified of a favorable review and final verification by City Council is needed. The grant amount would be $69,120 with a 10% City match or $6,912 that will enable the purchase of 1,000 each smoke and carbon monoxide detectors along with $15,000 for a part-time person to assist in the delivery of the project. This grant will support the existing program for smoke and carbon monoxide detector residential campaign that enhances the safety of the public.

F. Approval of Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program:
Delilah Oliver 852 7th Street, SE - Approval for up to $10,000
Jerry & Joy Flynn 42 14th Street, SE - Approval for up to $5,000
Michelle Dula 717 1st Avenue, SE - Approval for up to $12,500

Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or Program income received through the City’s Community Development Block grant Program.

Ann Liver of 1349 12th Avenue, NE is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2009 Urgent Repair Program not to exceed $5,000. Funds are budgeted through the City’s Community Development Department funding received in FY 2009-10. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of all the above.

G. Request For Funding By Community Relations Council (CRC) - Spring 2010 Grant Recommendations in the Amount of $6,000 - As part of the Community Relations Council work plan and annual budget process, the CRC receives funds to disperse during the fiscal year through the CRC grant process. A total of $12,000 is available for grant funding in FY 2009-10. The CRC reviewed the applications and recommends funding on seven of the grant requests received:
1. Council on Adolescents of CC $ 550
2. Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church $270
3. Greater Hickory CCM $1,380
4. Hickory Community Theatre $1,200
5. Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center $600
6. Piedmont Percussion Program $1,500
7. Safe Harbor Rescue Mission $500
Total $6,000

H. Approval to Accept the Factory Mutual Global Fire Prevention Grant in the Amount of $3,196 - The City of Hickory Fire Department submitted an application in September 2009 to the Factory Mutual Global Fire Prevention Grant Program for two digital cameras and camera related equipment. By letter dated March 4, 2010, the HFD has been awarded a no match grant in the amount of $3,196. The two cameras will be used for fire/arson prevention and investigation.

I. Approval of Pyrotechnic Displays Requests for Hickory Crawdads Baseball Club and St. Stephens High School - The North Carolina Fire Code requires a mandatory operation permit for the use and handling of pyrotechnic special effects material The City of Hickory has received permit requests from both Hickory Crawdads Baseball Club for fireworks to be displayed at the LP Frans Stadium on April 16, May 21, June 18, July 2, July 3, July 9, July 23, July 30, August 13 and August 27, 2010 including several rain dates and St. Stephens High School has submitted a permit request for fireworks to be displayed at CVCC on June 12, 2010 for their graduation ceremony.

J. Adopt Proposed Historic Grant by the Historic Preservation Commission - The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) requested $5,000 for a historic grant as part of their work plan for the FY 2009-10. The grant was to add to the opportunities the City had already put into place with Operation No Vacancy and the Vacant Building Revitalization Grant. City staff and colleagues wrote the draft criteria and were reviewed by the HPC on February 4 and 23, 2010. The grant would be similar to the City’s Downtown Appearance Grants in that it is a 50/50 match and is reimbursable. Placement on the State’s Study list, application for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and Tax Credit application are all eligible activities under the grant. The grant is to increase the attractiveness of the National Register listing while providing an opportunity to encourage the revitalization of older structures to be renovated and placed back into use.

K. Award Contract to Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs, PA For Audit Services For the Next Three Fiscal Years - Request for Qualifications (RFQ’s) were sent out to five Certified Public Accounting firms by the Finance Department. It is recommended that the independent audit services contract be awarded to Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs, PA for the next three fiscal years at a cost of $41,000 (FY 2010), $42,000 (FY 2011) and $43,000 (FY 2012).

L. Approval to Apply for a North Carolina Main Street Solutions Grant - City Staff in conjunction with the Hickory Downtown Development Association requests Council’s approval to apply for a North Carolina Main Street Solutions Grant to obtain funds to assist small businesses, i.e. the Depot and the Armory with construction improvements and to install additional crosswalk striping in the downtown area near the Farmer’s Market site. The City must make an application for funds which are then distributed to the two businesses according to grant requirements. The funds for the cross walk improvements will be matched by local labor. The Main Street Solutions Grant is a new program established by the State of North Carolina which is intended to strengthen the economy of the municipality and its role as a regional growth and employment hub.

In the Hound's Opinion - the only thing that is going to strengthen the Union Square area is a viable market place. That will have to include some anchor tenants. When is the Hickory Station going to open? When are we going to see a General merchandise store down there? Why is the attention of Downtown leaders still always microfocused on Union Square. Market Places should be focused on people, not inanimate objects.

The best and most successful part of our downtown is the SALT block. Which is more successful, Union Square or the SALT block? Yet, we don't even connect the two. Ask Hickory's citizens which is more important to their lives? Ask them which they visit more?Ask them if they consider the SALT block a downtown area? Yet, we make it next to impossible for pedestrians to walk from Neighborhood to Neighborhood in the Central areas of this city. A lady that is new to the area told me that her neighbor was perplexed because her family was walking 6 blocks to the library. The neighbor couldn't believe she wasn't driving -- 6 blocks (LOL)!!!

Ever been to Wilmington? You can walk there. Ever been to Charleston? You can walk there. Ever been to the heart of Charlotte? You can walk there. And I am not talking about walking around Union Square Hickory. I am talking about blocks and blocks and blocks. I went to a Panthers game and the distance to walk to the stadium from where we parked would be the equivalent of walking from the SALT block to Union Square. That is the sad reality of the situation. We really need to readjust and refocus the mindset about what Downtown is.

M. Approval to Apply for a Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant for the Purchase of Ten Video In-Car Digital Cameras and Radars - The Hickory Police Department requests Council’s approval to apply for a Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant to purchase ten video in-car digital cameras and radars at a cost of $85,000. These will be installed in new police vehicles at a cost of $6,000 per camera and $2,500 per radar; with a life expectancy of five to ten years per camera. The Governor’s Highway Safety Grant’s portion of the $85,000 cost would be $48,750 and the City’s portion would be $36,250.

N. Approval of 2010 Legislative Agenda - City staff has prepared both a Federal and State Legislative Agenda for 2010 which lists key issues and talking points to discuss with our legislative delegation, which contains the City’s views on potential legislation or initiatives to change current laws along with projects that the City is seeking additional funding for with the help of members of our delegation. The Legislative Agenda is an important communication tool that guides staff and city leaders to successfully deliver the message on key issues. Following the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, DC this month and the State delegation in Raleigh, Council will continue to discuss the Agenda. (This was discussed at the February 16, 2010 City Council Meeting. Since this was in the Consent Agenda, we did not hear what specific issues were discussed in Washington. We have to assume that the issues discussed in that February 16th agenda were addressed.)

O. Transfer of Cemetery Lot in Oakwood Cemetery From Carolotta K. Spruill and husband Robert G. Spruill and Carolotta K. Spruill, Heir to Cloyd A. Hager, Jr.

P. Budget Amendments -
1. Budget a $460 insurance claim check from McCollester’s Transportation Group, Inc. in the Police Department Maintenance and Repair of Building line item for damage to flooring on the lower level of Hickory Police Department.

2. Budget a $1,036 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the Fire Department Maintenance and repair of Building line item. This claim is for damages to Engine 4 fire apparatus that occurred at Station 4.

3. Budget a $565 insurance claim check from Travelers Insurance Company in the Water and Sewer Pipes, Hydrants and Meters line item. This claim is for damages sustained to a fire hydrant on 11-21-09.

4. Budget a $1,316 insurance claim check from Travelers Insurance Company in the Water and Sewer Pipes, Hydrants and Meters line item. This claim is for damages sustained to a fire hydrant on 12-31-09.

5. Budget a $1,650 donation from the Elks Lodge in the Parks and Recreation Department Supply line item. This donation will be used to conduct the annual Easter Egg Hunt which is coordinated by the City of Hickory’s Park and Recreation Department.

6. Budget a total of $3,525 of International Council donations in the International Council expenditure line item. These donations will be used to conduct the annual International Springfest event.

7. Transfer $2,168,756 of unspent funds originally dedicated to the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant project to Capital Reserve.

8. Transfer $46,140 of Firing Range Upgrade funds budgeted in the Police Department operational budget to an existing Department of Justice Grant project and to appropriate $2,033 of General Fund Balance and transfer funds to the Department of Justice Grant project fund. By transferring budgeted funds from the General Fund to the Justice Assistance Grant fund, it will allow staff to track the actual costs associated with the entire firing range upgrade project. The appropriation of $2,033 represents Police Federal Reimbursement balances from previous years that have rolled into Fund Balance at year end. Funds are needed for additional purchases for the project.

Grant Project Ordinance
1. To budget a $2.5 million of North Carolina Department of Transportation approved Federal Highway Administration funds in the CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality) Grant Project. This project is for the replacement of obsolete traffic equipment including both central hardware and software, controller equipment in the field, modest fiber optic cable plant expansion, additional CCTV cameras, video detection systems, data collection and management system and video workstations at both Public Services and City Hall. In addition this project will allow isolated traffic signals to come into the system. (This issue was presented as a departmental report during the last city council meeting - 3/2/2010).

Informational Items:
Report of City Manager Berry’s Travel Expenses to the NC Metropolitan Mayors Winter Meeting & Business Meeting in Wilmington, NC Held From February 23 – 25, 2010; registration - $125; hotel - $190.66; mileage - $312.50; per diem - $51

New Business - Public Hearings:
Resolution and Order for Petition of W. Andrew Wells, Jr., President of Brown Operating Company, Inc. to Close a Portion of 6th Street Court, NE - On February 4, 2010 a representative for W. Andrew Wells, Jr., President of Brown Operating Company, Inc. submitted a petition to close a portion of 6th Street Court, NE. Staff review did not yield any comments against this petition, but did recommend that the City retain a 25’ easement for any existing water and sewer utilities. Further, the Public Services Director recommended that Floyd Sigmon’s northern property line should project westward to tie into the new culde-sac/right-of-way line. Due to time constraints of the petitioner, a second reading is requested to be held on March 23, 2010. Council gave Unanimous Consent.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
Update Regarding Google Gigabit RFI - Approve Resolution in Support of Google Fiber to the Home and Business Initiative and Cooperation Among Western North Carolina Communities
Here is the Hounds summary about this presentation about the Google Initiative:
Team Woogle's Final Push - Before Hickory City Council - 3/23/2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Team Woogle's Final Push - Before Hickory City Council - 3/23/2010

I will report on the other agenda items of tonight's City Council meeting tomorrow, but the most important item on the docket, once again, was the Google initiative to bring 1 Gigabit broadband data service to our area. As will be shown, the document will be submitted electronically tomorrow/today - March 24, 2010, but our area needs to continue to make a push towards this effort, because it may be a while (weeks to months) before Google looks at our Request For Information (RFI) and there will be Rounds (what I call a "Beauty Contest") before the winner(s) is (are) chosen. The deadline for submission is March 26, 2010, so we are well ahead of the clock and I think that is an excellent process of thought.

Let's Look at the sources of information on the Woo Google initiative:
1) Woogle Twitter Account
2) Woogle Facebook Account
3) Woogle Homepage

You still have time to move this initiative forward:

1) You can take the community survey online at the official site - Link to survey.
2) Everyone create videos - General Public, Government Sponsored, Students, Primary Education, and higher Education. (The general public can also rate the videos which will help draw attention to the videos and especially the best videos).
3) Involve Community and Business Leaders - Healthcare, Industry, Small Business, Education, Government, Civic Groups, Fire and rescue, Utilities, and General Population (I believe this has been one of our most successful efforts in this campaign).
4) Chat It Up! - Organize and participate in various community group meetings - Use formal PowerPoint presentation or talking points at community meetings; Collect and document community input via written surveys and video. (I think teachers and school administrators should encourage students to do this. I also think employers should encourage school employees to do this).
5) Encourage groups and individuals to submit Google nominations - Apply Here (I did, have you. This will not take more than 30 minutes).
6) Civic Organizations - Ask for time on the agenda, Utilize existing small databases, conduct e-mail blasts. (Still plenty of time to do this, especially if we move to the next round).
7) Coordinate Local Optical Cable Vendors - Corning, Draka, and Commscope. (I am sure that this has already been done).

The Woogle Presentation was begun by City Manager Berry who stated that the Application must be submitted by Friday at 5pm PDT. He stated how incredible the team has been -- the partnership and the effort.

Paul Baird began his presentation about the progress of the initiative and displayed the website, which he stated was a work in progress. He thanked Ben Willis of CCC&TI, Deborah Ashley who is the President of the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce, Kim Hudson a consultant on the project, Katie Wynn who has written for the group, and Lee Young who is the Webmaster and works for Catawba County.

The Proposal is an agreement written in Google speak. It states that if Google will come and help transition our community into the 21st century, then there are some things that we will do for Google in return. We will help them build again in our Data Center Corridor -- they are already in Lenoir. Our community leaders are backing the effort and helping to move the effort forward to help the network be installed quickly.

30 focus groups have been involved in this process. Several key promotional ideas have been given as to how our area will promote this network. The ending statement is that we are a strong and resilient area. We will transform our area, but with this initiative we will be able to do it a lot faster and quicker.

Ben Willis and Deborah Ashley were up next. Mrs. Ashley displayed bullet points of how we are ready for transformation. We are resilient even though we are facing major challenges.
- We have lost many jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector
- We have a need for retraining
- We have a very high unemployment rate
- We need education of our adults 25 and over.
Despite the challenges, we are ready to fly
- We have received high marks in several magazines and studies
- Hickory and Lenoir are both All-American cities
- We have the Data Center Corridor
- The Challenges we face allow us to apply for incentives from the State of NC
- The Challenges allow the communities to create tax incentives
- High unemployment gives businesses many workforce options (people to employee)
- We have great healthcare access
- We have an excellent climate
- We have excellent access to I-40 and Hwy 321.
- If Google comes here, we will provide them measurable transformation.
- The details of this information provide raw data and facts.
- The information will also pull heartstrings.

Ben Willis stated that what they are trying to show is that we are down, but not out. The RFI is factual and also romantically written, because some people want the numbers and others want to hear the story. Google really likes partnerships and by coming together as cities and counties we have demonstrated that we do that very well. The Data Center Corridor shows the enhancement of how counties come together to promote an area jointly. Their is also good cooperation with Duke and Blue Ridge Energies. Google also owns a 200+ acre campus in Lenoir. Google would also have access to two state of the art community colleges in CVCC and CCC&TI. There is also Lenoir-Rhyne and the Appalachian State partnership which will help in the training of people.

Mrs. Ashley then spoke about the visuals and video on the website. As far as community leadership, she stated that in the RFI Google asked if we were ready to deploy and can we provide a single point of contact. Lain Baily, Lenoir City manager, will be that point of contact. He has already had a relationship with Google. This is a coordinated effort and it has been important to display how much the community cares and wants this.

Alderman Lail stated that Alexander county has passed a resolution recognizing this initiative even though they are not a part of this current proposal.

Mrs. Ashley went over the recently created Logo:
And spoke to how it incorporates many of the features between Lenoir and Hickory. The Hickory Crawdads, Pottery, the All-American City Sign, and Furniture. Mrs. Ashley pointed to the fact that the Facebook site has over 5,500 fans. She reiterated that the journey does continue even after the RFI is submitted. Google will continue to watch even after this initial stage. If we are selected for the next round, then we need to show Google that this wasn't just for fluff. That we didn't just come together to get this application in and we want people to continue to go on Facebook and be a fan. She wants everyone to continue to be a part of that.

Ben Willis mentioned that they were very fortunate to have Pixelspace to work on this initiative. He reiterated that this does not end on Friday. The buzz needs to be kept alive.

Kim Hudson thanked everyone in the community and talked about the 30 focus groups that involved creative ideas, business ideas, and healthcare ideas. That portion of the web goes into a lot of depth. She then played a Professional video from the Jackson Group. Which displayed several aspects of how this increased broadband capacity could help with emergency services, medical needs, small business, hosting of webinars for homebased businesses, primary education school needs, and Reggie Longcrier speaking to the issues of the Exodus Homes Mission.

Next Kim went over the aspects of an application wheel that integrates into the website. She displayed the in-depth detail of the Healthcare segment of this application wheel detailing information including items such as chronic disease management, doctor collaboration, sending MRI files more efficiently, Computer Chips, and Robotics. In the education section she displayed a video submitted by West Lenoir elementary:

As with the rest of the Woogle staff, she asked the community to continue submitting videos to the Youtube site. She next added the fact that we are the home of 3 world class fiber-optic companies. The community has many fiber-optic experts. There are 4,000 people employed by six plants in the area. These companies are eager to use this network as a means to research the products they develop.

Paul next showed data that will be provided in the RFI. They have worked with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments and various representatives of the utility companies in the area to pull together data involving demographics. The challenge and opportunity presented to Google is to start out with the Hickory-Lenoir area and to build out towards Newton, Conover and then spread out towards the cities along the 321 corridor and then reach out to rest of both communities. The next progression is to spread out towards a regional approach.

Paul showed graphics divided into various maps involving demographics. You can follow this link below to see some of the results: Google Survey Results.

Paul stated that the group was appreciative of the opportunity to work on the initiative that brought the community together in a way that we have not seen in a long time. He showed a map of businesses who were on a map and supported the Google initiative. The Mayor stated that he would hope that more businesses would join in and have there plaque put on this map.

Lastly, Paul mentioned an initiative to bring this technology to low income citizens via a Non-Profit entity. This initiative will be called, "Bridging the Digital Divide." He also talked about a Non-Profit effort involving Blue Cross - Blue Shield.

Alderman Lail spoke of the issue of Micro Trenching and that it was brought up in the initial teleconference in which Google introduced the process of this initiative and stated that he felt that it is important to include this into the RFI.

Ben made a point in stating that it is important that the United States not continue to fall behind on this issue and (paraphrasing) he believe that is the genius in what Google is doing.

The Hound thinks that it imperative that we keep pushing. This is nowhere near close to over. We have lost some momentum in the last couple of weeks since the process was initiated, but now it is the time to figure out new ways to get more people to join up.

I was amazed yesterday when I asked a co-worker if he knew this was going on and he had never heard about it. He is in high school and I would have thought for sure that the schools would have introduced this subject to all of their students and be talking about it as subject material. This is their future at stake and somehow there is a lack of communication about how important this initiative is.

If you read this and your kid goes to high school, elementary school, or college then you need to call the school and ask how they are involved in this initiative. They need to be inspiring these kids to become involved in this effort and if we want to bump those Facebook numbers up higher, well need I say more.

City of Hickory - Thinking Big with a Gig

I have a Dream - A 21st Century Hickory

Woogle - How You can Help Us Get Google Ultra High Speed Broadband

3,040 Facebook Fans of the Woogle Initiative - Team Woogle meets with FEC
3/9/2010 - Woogle Town Hall meeting tonight done. Onto Lenoir Thursday night
Google - Come make History in Hickory!!!
Hickory's Diaspora - Bring Home the Scattered Seeds

Monday, March 22, 2010

You can't have freedom, if you ain't willing to lose!!!

I am not going to repeat the same ole talking points that everyone else is pushing forth about this healthcare issue. I'm pretty much sick of it. I have seen both sides of the issue and I understand people's angst towards Democrats, Republicans, government, and their bosses on this issue.

This is just another beginning. Every day is a new beginning. There is no end until they bury you in the ground and I hope to at that time leave this forsaken world for the glory of God.

So many people have spoken of how they are sick of politics. They wish that this were over or that were over, but isn't it obvious that political wills are continuous. The problem is that people won't confront their issues. They would rather have someone else make the difficult decisions for them and then bicker about those decisions.

It is always about unintended consequences versus reality. Whether your heart desires a Utopian world of Sunshine and Lollipops for all is irrelevant. What is relevant is what you are willing to do in pursuit of your dreams and the dreams of a better world you desire. We are interconnected and we do need to be fair and seek justice, but these principles cannot be mandated.

What has been put in place is a system of control towards the Least Common Denominator. Are we going to seek excellence in healthcare? Or are we going to try to control people's habitual will? Did prohibition work in the early part of the 20th century? No, it was repealed because of the consequences it wrought on society and the lives it destroyed in the wake of its path.

Who can argue with what the controlling mindset of unintended consequences can lead toward:
1) Reduction in Patient-Doctor confidentiality.
2) Mandatory Physicals that expose issues that will no longer be private.
3) One child policies with severe sanctions towards those who do not comply.
4) Mandatory Drug testing during physicals to determine issues of dependency that as stated above will no longer be a private issue.
5) Mandatory Counseling leading to possible mandated inpatient counseling at dependency centers.
6) Mandatory Health Coverage by all businesses - large and small.
7) Mandatory Body-Mass Index control with excise taxes applied according to excess weight.
8) Businesses garnishing your meager wages to pay for your health coverage.
9) You being put into a coverage group that has individuals with bad habits, which raises your premium payment with no cap on expenses.
10) The IRS delving into your issues of personal income and auditing you to make sure that you are reporting all of your income; over healthcare issues.

Why wouldn't this happen?
1) Does the government and society not deserve to know if you have a disease that could harm the society?
2) Does the government and business, that contributes to your healthcare, not deserve to know if you are chemically dependent on Marijuana, Cocaine, Alcohol, or other Narcotics?
3) Does the government and business that contributes to your healthcare, not deserve to have you operating at peak productivity which may be diminished by disease, obesity, pregnancy, or chemical dependency?
4) Does the government that contributes to your healthcare, not deserve to know exactly how much money you make? Especially in a progressive income based entitlement system?

You have given up control of you life in order feel a sense of comfort in security, but will you? Security is a personal mindset! Where is the security in full reliance on others.

If you think what I am proposing is ludicrous, then I challenge you to look at history. This has happened many times before when empires were formed. It will last a long time. It may even last the rest of our lives, but it will not last forever, because people yearn to be free.

The unknown causes Fear in many and Terror comes from those who exacerbate fear by manipulating that fear into a resource of control. If we embrace and accept the unknown, then we as humans can truly strive towards good and our powers are limitless. We must change our mindset away from these issues of negative control and move towards positive influence.

And I will never give up on that Ideal!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WAMO - Wednesday night At Mount Olive with Houndvision

The following is a video of what I do on Wednesday afternoon and evenings during the Lenten (Easter) and Advent (Christmas) seasons. It entails going and buying groceries, taking them to church, preparing, and serving a meal to 60 to 70 people from our congregation. These events take place all over Catawba County and they bring cohesion to the community.

Looking at ways this system could be improved, would be if Sam's could have a computer system that I could call into with my needs, that could tell me the costs, and possibly help me inventory the products. The product could be available to me for pick-up. This would create more efficient uses of time and money.

There is also video included of the Church's audio/visual computer system and what the church's intentions are with this system. Through a capital campaign that was managed and implemented by the leaders of Mount Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hickory, North Carolina in accordance with the offerings, donations, and commitments of the congregation, we have seen the church move towards 21st century audio, video, and computer technology and communication with its congregation and the outside world.

This A/V system is ready made for a Ultra Highspeed Broadband Network that has the capability of real-time audio and video delivery to individuals and groups located outside of Mount Olive's sanctuary and Property. The system creates the possibility of reaching shut-in members of the congregation, addressing issues of overflow attendance of Mount Olive events, and promoting special events to the community and others outside of the congregation.

Mount Olive's Audio-Video System

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How can the United States avoid Bankruptcy?

Washington Post - Moody's warns nations to cut spending or risk AAA ratings - By Howard Schneider - Washington Post Foreign Service - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New York Times - Moody’s Says U.S. Debt Could Test Triple-A Rating - By DAVID JOLLY and CATHERINE RAMPELL - Published: March 15, 2010

We have already lost our Aaa rating, if they are talking about it. Moody's has close ties with our government and has vested interest in propping up this rating. Look how Moody's propped up Enron while the tech bubble imploded in 2000. Also, look how Moody's propped up the rating of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while the implosion of the housing market was already set in stone. How can anyone trust information coming from this credit rating agency?

If the U.S. credit rating falls that means that investor's will look at our Treasury Bills and Agency Securities as riskier investments. Therefore, investors will look towards higher rates of return on their investments. That means that the U.S. will be paying higher interest on any money borrowed, as well as debt that has already been accrued. The days of massive deficits will be coming to an end, one way or another.

At a time when we are suffering from unemployment rates of 10% to 20% on the national level (15% to 25% locally) depending on how one looks at the numbers, under current thought processes and practices we are going to see spending slashed and taxes raised dramatically. We may well soon see in this country what is already taking place in Iceland, Greece, and Portugal, where strikes and citizen protest marches are leading opposition to tough measures of austerity directly related to reduction of spending on entitlement programs.

From the Washington Post article:
Moody's reported, but "growth alone will not resolve an increasingly complicated debt equation. Preserving debt affordability at levels consistent with AAA ratings will invariably require fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion."
The Hound's Take: Personally I don't see a way out of this mess. The key is how long it will persist. I see so many people who really don't understand this crisis. They think we are coming out of this mess and it looks to me like we are entering the second phase. I know so many people who are having a hard time making ends meet and yet there are others who don't appear to be suffering much at all.

I know that my personal income level is where it was 10 years ago and things are a lot more expensive; then I look and see the money that some government officials make and it blows my mind. I was thinking about it today after a few conversations with some friends who are in a similar predicament as myself. I think this is a valid question.

Are government officials not willing to rock the boat and take some chances because of their income? Have we set our nation up for failure, because of the way that we compensate our elected officials and the bureaucracy?

I don't want to get into the validity of the payscale. In a time when so many of our citizens are suffering through unemployment or underemployment, I do believe that the questions asked about public compensation are valid. The private sector wants to feel that the public sector is fighting the fight alongside us.

I think it is also time to reign in the banks and I wonder if our government officials are willing to do this. There was a gentleman that is running for Catawba County Commission who stated in the Hickory Daily Record that Catawba County needs to tax the Wall Street conglomerate banks. I dismissed him because I don't want another tax being passed on to me at a time when I feel the banks are already ripping us off. But, this man's thought was genuine and I do understand what he was getting at.

If, however, our elected officials at all levels of government would be willing to stand together with the citizenry they are supposed to represent, then maybe we could start getting some of our money back from the banksters who fomented this mess. People like Webster Tarpley and others have pushed around the idea of a Tobin tax on financial transactions involving securities and derivatives, such as the infamous "Credit Default Swaps." I have come around to their way of thinking.

The Wall Streeters pushed this "Free for All - No Holds Barred" idea of Global Trade. Look at the end results. They are the rich who are getting richer and they are definitely not looking out for the good of the country. Tarpley calls this Tobin Tax "the Robin Hood Tax." I agree with the statement that the Wall Street bankers (along with their willing governmental accomplices) created this depression and it is time that they pay for it.

In reality, what pain have the people who created the mess, Wall Street bankers and Government Regulators, felt from this debacle, especially when one can see that so much fraud was committed. Yet, the American people have lost jobs, felt the credit squeeze, had banking fees grow drastically, watched in terror as national Debt continues to pile up, and we can go on and on and on. Raise your hand if your home mortgage is under water. Who are the real terrorists? Who causes more fear in our lives?

The money raised from this tax can be used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. You would have to be blind not to notice the rot going on in many urban areas within U.S. Cities. This money should be put towards productive purposes that create value. It could go towards broadband initiatives, creating micro-financing capital, working on alternative energy and transportation, facilitating biotech and nanotechnology.

Folks, you can look at what I say here and say it is pessimistic, but if you will take a truly good look at what I expose, then you will see that it is optimistic. The difference is you. If you are willing to take action by spreading the word, becoming involved, calling your governmental representatives, etc. we can effect change that will make our lives better. We are circling the drain and if we don't take some drastic measures to rectify our economic lot in life, then we are sure to create a dark age period that could last for generations or we can say enough is enough and start doing something about it. Whether this country goes bankrupt or not will depend on you!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hickory's Diaspora - Bring Home the Scattered Seeds

A Diaspora - (From Wikipedia) - (in Greek, διασπορά – "a scattering [of seeds]") is any movement of a population sharing common national and/or ethnic identity. While refugees may or may not ultimately settle in a new geographic location, the term diaspora refers to a permanently displaced and relocated collective.

The word "Diaspora" was used to refer to the population of Jews exiled from Israel in 607 BCE by the Babylonians, and from Judea in 70 CE by the Roman Empire. Many people look at the Diaspora involving cultures of countries that been displaced because of war. There are examples of this throughout the United States. Think of the Immigration of Cuban nationals to Miami that has taken place over the last half century. Here is a link from The Afghan Embassy detailing the influx of Afghans over the last 30 years due to the wars in that country.

What I would like the readers of this blog to think about is the exodus of people from the Hickory area that has taken place over the last 10 years due to the loss of our manufacturing base. We have seen a massive economic shift from a prosperous, growing mid-sized community to a community whose population has begun to stagnate and whose per capita income has not kept up with the state, the Sun Belt region, or the United States as a whole.

This is an issue that was spoken about during the Future Economy Council meeting on June 18, 2009. The discussion centered on a conceptual belief that there are connections of people throughout the world that may have an interest and/or empathy in this area's plight and these people may be more than willing to lend us support.

Many of our current local inhabitants are pessimistic about the State of our Community's Condition and it is a struggle to change their mindset. A positive process towards progress might involve getting people who are former residents of this area, or who have secondary ties to the area, involved in the reformation of our economy and culture. This is a way to maybe bring a new perspective to ongoing discussions and change people's minds that are stuck in the old ways of thinking.

Terry Bledsoe, Catawba County's Chief Information Officer and the President of the Future Economy Council, has talked about Catawba County's utilization of Facebook. The idea was to gain participation from locals to get (county government) messages out. Unintentionally it was discovered that people all over the world have signed up for the page, because they want a connection with Catawba County. They want to know what is going on in Catawba County.

I joined that Catawba County's Facebook page long ago. That site currently has 1,414 fans. The City of Hickory's page also has 914 fans. But, what is amazing is a private site on Facebook called "I'm from Hickory, North Carolina." That site currently has a total of 3,059 fans. Like Terry stated, there are a lot of people who are interested in having a connection (Past, Present, or Future) with our area.

When we look at the Diaspora of this area we need to ask some important questions:
1) Why did you leave here?
2) If you left here because of an employment or educational opportunity and that opportunity had been available in this area, would you have left?
3) If that employment opportunity were to present itself in this area, in the future, would you come back to the area?
4) What problems do you see with the area?
5) Are you interested in helping the Hickory area turn its economic plight around?
6) What current tangible solution do you see helping the Hickory area?
I think that is a good start. I know that many of you have read my postings, articles, and beliefs about our loss of the younger demographic. In the last year, that has moved from what Futurists call a Weak Signal to an issue of accepted relevance. I believe that we all now understand what a problem the loss of our community's young energy poses.

That is one reason why this Google Ultra Highspeed Broadband initiative excites me so much. It is a solution that can give us a fair chance to retain our area's best and brightest young people, as well as attract the best and brightest minds from around the world. Not many solutions can so easily shift our intellectual paradigm from Brain Drain to Brain Gain. It allows us to develop people who can lead lives rooted on a solid foundation. That type of cultural structure will lead to economic stability and resiliency.

I would like our area officials to study the above by initiating a survey of this Diaspora. We need to form these connections and attach ourselves to the Hickory Natives that we have lost. Does what I am proposing here not make sense? Are there any negatives associated with this? This leads us away from what has seemed to be a scattershot approach involving growth issues. The questions that I posed above will go a long way towards helping us resolve many issues that this community faces and maybe ensure that we never head down this path again.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google - Come make History in Hickory!!!

Over the last year, since I began participating in the Future Economy Council and started trying to assess this world in which we live, I have found comfort from many of the people I have gotten to know as compatriots of the Technological Society. I can't say that we are similar, because we aren't. We are very unique individuals. I'm not going to name names here, because what I write here isn't about names, it's about the mindset. We are a group of people tied together by the fact that we live our lives "Outside of the Box."

There are many of us who are of like mind in believing that Technology will enrich our lives. I don't believe any of us are scared of technology. There are already many people in this community who fully understand what will happen if this Google Fiber to the Home Initiative were brought to the Hickory-Lenoir area. We really want this to happen, because as I have said, this is the game changer and we accept and embrace the ways it will change our lives.

One thing that has been stated is that we as a community need to come forward with ideas of how we envision this Google project changing our lives personally. I believe that is a hard task for many people in this community to do, because their lives have been so rigidly structured for so long, that it is hard for them to let their imagination run free and run down alternative paths towards innovation. Words and phrases that come to mind are "Let's be realistic" ... impossible ... relevant ..."Can't be done"... "Show me where it's been done before."...

Now the people who have lived in these worlds of limitations are being asked to open their minds to limitless possibilities. Heck, I am sure that there are some people in this community that will believe that is impossible. But, I am not here to talk about the relevant. I am here to talk about the irrelevant.

Whether we can pull people's minds into a new way of thinking before Google makes a decision is irrelevant. We as a community are very much capable of being innovative. We have had plenty of tools that have been laid to spur knowledge and creativity over the last few years. Lenoir-Rhyne, CVCC, CCC&TI, The Appalachian State Partnership, the Engineering Center, the Manufacturing Solutions Center, and the excellent SALT Block have developed and are still developing into top notch centers of academia, scientific, and cultural study. Their is also the fact that Appalachian State's Millennial Campus is looking to the Hickory area for its development. If Google makes the decision to lay this fiber here, then it will bring new inhabitants to our community who will spur that growth of knowledge, creative, and innovative endeavors to even higher levels.

What I hope that Google will take into consideration is the fact that if they come here they will have a great story to tell in the not too distant future. They can tell the story of how they created value in a community. They can tell how they played "buy low and sell high" at its finest. They will have entered a community with a lot of great ingredients that just needs a catalyst to get the energy flowing again. Google's Fiber is the rocket fuel we need. I truly believe that if this happens, we are going to take off to the stratosphere.

Other communities might have a lot to offer, but we have the ways to facilitate these connections expeditiously. We're ready! We have the Data Centers, we have the manufacturers, we have buildings that need new uses, and we have the rail corridor that is ready made for this effort. What a story this would be and in the end isn't that what it is all about?

Google, please come to Hickory and make History!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

3/9/2010 - Woogle Town Hall meeting tonight done. Onto Lenoir Thursday night

This was a nice rally, which featured Mayor Wright of Hickory and Mayor David Barlow of Lenoir. Mayor Wright spoke of all that has happened and is happening to facilitate this process. He addressed the media and the positive publicity we are receiving from them. He spoke about the technical team working on facilitation of applications and about Think Tanks involving Medical Focus Groups. He talked about home based businesses and about the meeting of the Future Economy Council. He addressed about the Google Webinar that took place last Friday to explain what they are looking for. He also wanted everyone to know that there will be another Town Hall event in Lenoir tomorrow March 9, 2010 and he hopes that many people who were here tonight can attend. I was given an address for a live feed happening of that meeting happening Thursday night.
Mayor Wright spoke about the Catawba and Caldwell Chambers putting together a group of business leaders to discuss what we can do to make this happen and why this is so important to us. He also talked about the broad based, tremendous support this project has received and he stated that this could define our future for years to come.

Mayor Barlow next addressed the group and addressed his past experience in landing Google a few years years ago. He stated that he is delighted that Hickory and Lenoir have joined forces. He talked about the cooperation that is taking place now that would not have taken place a few years ago and spoke about how fast this initiative is moving along. He stated that he believes this project will improve scientific educational usage and residential usage. He stated that he is amazed how business and governments are working hard together and even if this doesn't work out there will be other projects where we will work together.

Mayor Barlow stated that they (Google) know what we are capable of, because of the Google and Apple projects that have already happened. They know that we will do everything we can to accommodate them and do it in a timely manner. Lenoir received the Google center, because of the site and the infrastructure, but the human factor did help. We need to make sure that Google understands how much we want them to bring this Fiber-optic line here.

Mayor Wright recognized Dee Blackwell from the WPCOG, Tim Markley - Catawba County School Superintendent, Debra Ashley and David Horne of the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce, and he also the Hickory City Council mebers who were present (Fox, Seaver, Patton, and Guess).

City Manager Mick Berry next addressed the group and mentioned why we stand a shot of landing this project. Only 19 other communities in the country have a Google facility, only 3 of those have a population base that Google specified they are looking for, and only one of those have 3 state of the art fiber manufacturers in their area and that is us.

We have people in the audience tonight that know more about bending light and using fiber than in most parts of the world. We have a heck of a story to tell that differentiates us from everyone else. Mick then announced Kim Hudson and she delivered her message that has been spelled out in the past threads involving this issue and linked below. She did request that educators help get the message out and become personal crusaders. Kim next introduced Ben Willis who is an instructor at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.

This is Ben's Video. It is awesome and hilarious. The dude's got talent.

The Hound's message - The Mayor has stated that we are all in it on this initiative and I personally have seen a lot of people who are devoting there lives (16+ hours a day) to this cause. This initiative is just what this community needs. I believe that 99% of us are totally in favor of making this thing happen. I doubt any community is working as hard as the interested parties in this community and I have never seen the camaraderie, amongst different entities, that this effort has caused to happen.

I saw two friends of mine who are playing a vital role in this process. Alan Jackson and Chris Frye of the Jackson Group were at this meeting. They are video and marketing consultants working on the Woogle effort. You can see the passion and enthusiasm that they are bringing to the table on this effort. Alan has recently been named the Chairman of the Small Business Job Growth Council that the city has formed to attract, retain, and facilitate the implementation of small business and commerce in the area.

I don't think Alan would mind me divulging a part of our conversation about the excitement that this process has brought forth. The excitement is in watching communities and groups come together. This is huge, because it is a rallying cry like we have never seen before. We can take this Google effort and implement it in other processes. Other companies are going to be doing what Google is attempting to do here and we need to utilize the data and information we attain in this effort towards possible future ventures. Alan and I are more excited about what is currently happening in our community than we have been in a long time.

Get excited folks!!! This community is positively transforming before your very eyes.

***Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright and Lenoir Mayor David Barlow will be on WJRI 1340-AM and on Kicks 103.3 Thursday morning to talk about the project.

City of Hickory - Thinking Big with a Gig

I have a Dream - A 21st Century Hickory

Woogle - How You can Help Us Get Google Ultra High Speed Broadband

3,040 Facebook Fans of the Woogle Initiative - Team Woogle meets with FEC

3,040 Facebook Fans of the Woogle Initiative - Team Woogle meets with FEC

Today, March 8, 2010, I attended a meeting of the Future Economy Council that discussed the Google effort on a multi-faceted level.

A few new notes
I asked if they (Google) want to facilitate laying the wire, but they don't want to manage the wire? Paul Baird (Consultant) stated that they are building a utility and will operate the utility. How long until they turn it over to anyone else is anyone's guess. I asked if was open ended, are there no timetables or capacity? Kim Hudson (consultant) stated that they may choose one community or they may choose five. They are very non-committal about how quick this will turn around and what their long term plans are. They are interested in how they might be able to utilize Google Apps by implementing this network. I asked if there had been any one-on-one communications with Google? Kim stated no and Google has specified that they don't want any personal contact. There are around 2,000 communities applying for this implementation.

Shane Pitman asked about what Google's interaction will be with local internet providers. Houston stated that was the point, to end the chokehold, drive up competition and drive down the price. Shane asked about the management of the wire and Paul stated that Google has not stated that they would hand off the management, that is just the assumption. This is a digital utility, like a road. This will not be a public-private partnership. Google will choose where it will be built, they aren't looking for any incentives or help. They will choose it for their own purposes.

Installations to the home will be contracted. As far as the connection between Hickory and Lenoir, Google will lay their own cable or lease the space from someone else. Duke Net and Century Link are alternatives to leasing. Parameters are 50,000 to 500,000 population and they want a broad spectrum of socio-economic demographics. This could be Google's development effort for the next 100 years. The RFI (Request For Information will include Right of Way issues. This is another Experimental Lab for Google. This will highlight Caldwell and Catawba Counties, between the 321 corridor linking Hickory and Lenoir. It will be Google's choice how and where to lay the fiber along that area. Telephone poles are owned by Duke Energy and they lease space on the poles.

Google needs to know that this community is in the process of creating a new kind of social leadership structure that supports continuous innovation and understands the importance of a systemic community transformation initiative. This Broadband initiative would not be about satisfying individual needs. It would be a building block utilized to progress local society culturally, as well as technologically.

It might be silly for us to think about what Google wants out of all of this and some statements were made that it is irrelevant, but in the end we as humans are curious by nature and for us to come full circle and feel comfortable about this idea and its issues, we have to be able to wrap our minds around the process. We have to at least think we know what someone else is thinking, even if we truly don't have a clue.

Rick Smyre talked about the Semantic Web and the ability to have artificial intelligence that utilize voice synthesis. These are going to be concepts that come to fruition in the next 5 years. We don't need to look at the structures in place today. We need to look at the existing week signals in our area, because these signals will come to fruition in the next 5 years. We need to identify what is emerging. This is one of the reasons why the United States has fallen back.

Houston stated that if we get this, we don't have to worry about branding, because businesses will be banging on our door. Jay Adams stated that that is very important to brand this area as a place where innovation can occur. He then talked about the idea of utilizing the existing rail line for this broad band corridor that lies between Hickory and Lenoir. You have 5 communities and vacant buildings that can be utilized.

Here are some terms and ideas discussed and generated by the group, its mentors, and associates:
1) Augmented Realities
2) Smart Houses (Home Automation) and the Smart Grid
3) 21st Century healthcare involving monitoring, diagnoses, and treatment via nanotechnology
4) Support for home-based businesses
5) High-Def and 3-D Entertainment
6) Enables Home-Based Individualized Education in a Virtual Classroom
7) Enhanced Mobile Technologies by integrating them with the Cloud and the Smart Grid.
8) Enables 21st Century Mobile Governance and Direct Consensus Democracy

Steve Ivester asked if he were doing product development for companies in Beijing or Sweden, and sending digital drawings, does this provide part of the solution or all of the solution? Houston Harris stated that potentially the choke-hold would be on the other end and that's a good thing. Mick Berry stated it's not about the bottleneck. It's not about technical analysis. It is about thinking big. What do you think you can do if you have this kind of Broadband Capacity and you need to articulate that.

I mentioned about the fact that we don't have an affordable (State supported) medical University on this side of the state. We could utilize this capacity to send 3-D images back and forth to Chapel Hill or East Carolina. It could be used for virtual classrooms. Steve Ivester interjected about remotely directed 3-D surgery. Amy Powell talked about a Doctor in California who has 6 other doctors who travel and he instructs them remotely.

We next talked about information systems, smart traffic systems, security issues, 3-D, and virtual reality.

Harry Hipps asked how Google is going to assess this once this is in place, if we are picked?
Is Google's interest technical? He further stated, "I am sure that they would like to see good economic development, but I can't see this as there basic motivation."

Houston Harris stated that it is about ideas. They are a creative center and he believes they feel they have tapped out their own ideas and now they want fresh ideas to come in from the public and Google can worry about managing the company. It was stated that this is "Crowdsourcing."

I asked how many of these Gig networks are in the United States and Worldwide?
Houston stated there may be a few metro-nets and Terry Bledsoe stated that there may be a few in Europe. That led me to ask if this would make us an incubator? Which led everyone to answer a resounding yes. If we are an incubator, then this starts out a process of spreading the web. Shane Pitman stated that we shouldn't be so naive that they aren't monitoring the data. They are looking not to improve the infrastructure. They are looking to improve their own products and services. Kim Hudson stated that 99% of their revenue is from advertising.

Terry reeled us back in by stating that we aren't here to figure out Google. We need innovative ideas to submit to attract Google here. Leave the marketing to the consultants.

Shane Pitman talked about Bloom Grocery and their use of RFID chips on the groceries and customer based scanning - Supermarket Tech & Ease. Jay Adams talked about the possibilities of a Grocery Store along the Rail Corridor that doesn't have a parking lot, because a home based scanner can be used to scan the groceries you run out of during the week. The information is stored in a database and the products can be picked and delivered to you at a depot on the rail line near where you live and where it will be available for you to pick up. People will be willing to rely on barcodes for inventory of household products.

Jay talked about the rail corridor and how it is densely populated and it connects Hickory and Lenoir, and it does have Google on it. MDI is about distribution and Logistics, so we can at least discuss the feasibility of the idea. Steve Ivester concurred that is a reason we can move the peg forward.

Houston talked about how a restaurant, such as Backstreets, can utilize a service such as this to keep inventory and I added that this could also be coordinated with your cash register. This would automatically coordinate the order between the restaurant and a purveyor, such as IFH. John Bates stated that Walmart has been doing that for 15 years - EDI. The question is can this be taken down to a micro scale? The consensus was that we could.

Kim stated that she would like to show the augmented use of Google applications from people in this area. She wants people to become fans of Facebook. They want people to please plop ideas onto the site and they utilize these for the official "Request For Information" that will be submitted in a couple of weeks. We are encouraged to think about ways to advertise on Google.

Steve Ivester stated that he believes that we have existing manufacturers that can help us succeed in innovation of 21st Century healthcare involving monitoring, diagnoses, and treatment via nanotechnology. He cited Moose Industries and various world-class doctors we have in the area.

I took the conversation in a bit of a different direction by talking about Real-Time Manufacturing and the capability to coordinate it with the Manufacturing Solutions Center at CVCC. Why can't we have people throughout the United States sending those Micro ideas in here and letting Dan St. Louis and the people down there help develop those products.

Steve Ivester stated that he doesn't have any trouble listing a dozen industries of the future where we already have weak signals in place. We are an area of innovation, but we have been knocked down by textiles and furniture. The seeds are there for more innovation.

Jay Adams suggested we do a scavenger hunt to search for areas of innovation and come back to discuss true areas of innovation and we can grow it from there. Houston talked about the branding piece. The start-up, incubator, growth area is where we need to focus, because our biggest companies have left the area. We can rebuild the area with smaller companies that will grow.

City of Hickory - Thinking Big with a Gig

I have a Dream - A 21st Century Hickory

Woogle - How You can Help Us Get Google Ultra High Speed Broadband

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Iceland rejects the Banksters. Our turn is coming!!!

Yesterday, Icelanders rejected a plan to pay back the British and Dutch governments for money it lost over the collapse of the Icesave bank in 2008 - (Hazel Tyldesley, Sky News Online). The amount of money that this proposed deal would have cost average Icelander would be around $135US per month for eight years. The Icelanders said they could not afford such an excise tax and my question to my fellow Americans is: Could you afford such an exorbitant tax?

Our government is going to eventually try to pawn this scheme off on us. This is all a continuation of the scam of derivatives trading and still governments have done nothing to reign in the terror that the banks have wrought on the world economy. It looks as though the next card to fall will be Greece and Goldman sachs has their fingerprints all over it (Goldman Sachs details 2001 Greek derivative trades).

It is time to reign in the terror brought on by the convoluted schemes of the New York and London Banking cabal. It is time to unwind this fools' deception. Where has the TARP and bailout money gone? Look at all of the bonuses. Look at the enormous profits these banks have created with money that the general public is on the hook for.

Why have the financiers not taken the losses? Were they not the group trading in the derivatives? Is this not their system? It is time to figure out the end game and we must demand to know where these people are taking us. I would just like to ask: Do you trust the people with their hands in the money pot, who have been placed in charge of our economy? While our economy continues to implode, why do these people seem to be getting filthy rich?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Over 20,000 Unique Viewers have visited the Hickory Hound

Earlier this week, on Monday to be exact, we passed the 20,000 Unique Viewer mark. I appreciate the fact that so many people have visited this site even though we deal in a subject with a narrow focus when compared to the world at large.

We have had people come to this site, maybe the better word is stumble, from every continent on the globe and from just about every State in the United States. This site is still in its infancy and we are treading along just fine, even though I would like to eventually reach that critical mass. I still believe that this site is very important and we have seen good results along the way. This is the new media, some will call it the micro-media; but I prefer to call it advocacy media.

We aren't here to cover sports, give the weather from day-to day, cover pop culture, or the obituaries. We are here as representatives of the local culture. We are here for opinion. We are here to give the average person in this community a voice. Please feel free to comment on any article. We want a dialogue.

I facilitated this blog utilizing, which is owned by Google. I appreciate Google, because they have provided me with tools that allow me, an average citizen, to have a voice. I know that a lot of people are scared of Google. They are worried that Google is spreading its tentacles into everything. Without access to the World Wide Web and the ability to create a blog, it would have been a lot harder to imagine anything close to what we are doing here taking shape -- Just think about 20 years ago. And if this community does receive and achieve this expanded capacity of Data Communications, then it has the potential to allow the citizens of this community to participate more fully in the process of governance. There will be no excuses not to pay some attention to what is going on.

It is my hope, along with Harry Hipps and several others, that soon local governmental meetings will be televised via webcam and archived for on demand viewership. This type of hands on interaction with government will help elected officials, city staff, and the public have a closer bond with one another. It is my hope that this will create an idea we can call "The Great Conversation."

No longer will I report to the interested, the summaries of minutes of the various meetings and public affairs important to us all. Interested parties will see it for themselves. There is nothing better than seeing events unfold with your own eyes and if I had my wish that is what would happen. If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many does video offer?

If video of public meetings, such as City Council, were brought to us, The Hound would evolve into fostering ideas and attempt to ask appropriate questions about area happenings. The viewership of this blog and other communication outlets would steer the conversation. These opinions would then help local government shape policy to better fit the needs of the constituents it represents.

Society is changing whether we like it or not. We would be better off to try and shape that change, than to sit back and let it randomly change us. I have seen a groundswell of support over this Google issue, with over 1,800 people signing onto the Woogle Facebook page in 3 days. This shows that people will mobilize and rally when they feel an issue is important enough. We must utilize the momentum we see here by rallying the public towards participation in our community's transformative process.

Even if we aren't able to land this Google deal, this mobilization of public interest and awareness needs to be built upon. With all of us working together towards creating excellence in Hickory, we can't help but begin to move in a positive direction.