Roger Watson’s view piece in the BHC on Sunday titled “Supervisors expend $600k to reward squirrels with cellphones” was extra than a minimal disappointing.
The dearth of genuine info was shocking … particularly as Mr. Watson is the taking care of editor of this paper. So, let’s look outside of the “squirrels” for a moment:
The whole premise of Mr. Watson’s piece rests on a sliver of info, which is presented as the total story. Mr. Watson unsuccessful to point out that Washington County has been granted roughly $60M to deliver world-wide-web obtain to quite a few of the unserved sections of the county.
Certainly, the Washington County Board of Supervisors not too long ago voted to employ Ernst & Younger, a company specializing in broadband infrastructure, to help with the setting up, configuration and, eventually, the execution of this huge job. The supervisors are executing their because of diligence — they are seeking the details that will guideline the long term determination-producing connected to this essential obtain. In other words and phrases, they are proving to be excellent and nicely-informed stewards of shut to $60M in grant funding to enrich the lives of our citizens and guests. To present this $600K financial investment as the “whole tale,” without the need of context or history, is merely misleading.
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Mr. Watson argues that these cash are squandered on “squirrels with cellphones.” Quite the visible, sure, but even this vibrant description does not obscure the details:
Path protection should really be everyone’s worry. Accidents occur on the two the Creeper and Mendota trails as they do at all recreational internet sites. So far too does the sudden onset of emergency wellbeing challenges like coronary heart assaults, strokes or other medical crises that involve an instant response. Devoid of the means to speak to EMS, a major incident or unexpected health care crisis could outcome in a fatal final result. I battle with Mr. Watson’s assert that the expenditure for unexpected emergency communications does not “make for a superior expense/profit ratio” when someone’s existence is on the line.
No one — and I repeat no one — has at any time proposed that world-wide-web obtain for website visitors on possibly path need to be “guaranteed” so “people can obtain e-mail, post selfies and function on their Wordle puzzle,” as Mr. Watson states. That comment is not only downright phony, it is insulting.
The complete location rewards economically from the tourism dollars the Creeper and Mendota trails generate. In Washington County by itself, outside recreation accounts for the major part of the tax base outside the house of agriculture. And one important lesson uncovered is outside rec is “pandemic-evidence,” unlike so a lot of other companies and points of interest that were battered by the pandemic. In point, Creeper Trail site visitors saved quite a few of all those organizations during the worst of new occasions. The the very least the countless numbers of neighborhood inhabitants and out-of-city website visitors should really assume is the infrastructure needed to be certain a risk-free visit.
In addition, Mr. Watson’s myopic look at ignores two of the most consequential benefits beyond the trails: One particular, access will empower at-dwelling studying for the county’s young children. Certainly, we can all keep in mind the pandemic that pressured our little ones to learn from residence for months? Although this hardship was shared by all students across our area, it was manufactured demonstrably much more hard for young children in unserved areas. Ideally, we won’t deal with a further pandemic anytime shortly, but at-dwelling access to the online is essential in today’s educational ecosystem, pandemic or not.
His 2nd oversight is the detrimental economic effect the absence of net accessibility has on the economies of our smaller communities. Now the absence of internet can be equated to the lack of electrical energy or drinking water for a business enterprise. Without this infrastructure, progress of products and services and new businesses will carry on to be hampered.
Handling Editor Watson would be very well-served by following Washington County’s BOS reality-gathering product rather than earning vibrant comparisons among protection, economic progress, and instruction to mythical “squirrels with cellphones.”
Lisa Kestner Quigley is the executive director of the Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy.