Kansas Association of Counties, Docking Institute join forces for Telepower

HAYS, KS -- The Kansas Association of Counties and Fort Hays State University's Docking Institute of Public Affairs recently announced a joint venture to educate county staffs and commissioners about the use of information technology and telecommunications for community businesses, schools, hospitals and local governments.

KAC members can receive information about job creation, telemedicine, e-government, workforce development, and economic development vital to their communities' futures, through the Docking Institute's Telepower 2001: e-Vision Your Future conference, Sept. 26 and 27 at Fort Hays State University. County commissioners, clerks, administrators and other staff are eligible for half-price registration for the conference.

"Community leaders need a vision of how information technology can support their county or town's economic and community development," said KAC Executive Director Randy Allen. "There are numerous community benefits available when an adequate IT infrastructure is in place."

In addition, information technology can improve the internal operations of local governments and their ability to serve citizens. It is expected that online delivery will become increasingly important to the effective and efficient provision of government services.

"There are a variety of sessions appropriate for county leaders in this year's Telepower," said Cathy Drabkin, the conference's coordinator. For instance, a conference session on "IT Access Success Stories" will feature presentations from communities who have taken things into their own hands to secure high speed, broadband access.

A session on e-government will present such services as property tax and motor vehicle renewal that counties can put online.

"Our 'Workforce Development in the New Economy' presentation shows how community learning centers can play an important part in training a local area's workforce, whether it's for Cisco training or drop-out recovery services," said Drabkin.

Workforce development will be one of the topics addressed by Telepower keynote speaker Gene Veeder, executive director of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority and McKenzie County Tourism Bureau in Watford City, ND.

This rural community of 4,000 has proven the premise that technology can enrich the lives of rural residents through new jobs, e-commerce and educational opportunities. The community created a virtual community technology center, trained its citizens to become an IT workforce, and then recruited technology-based industries to town. Veeder will discuss his county's transition from a natural resource-based economy to one based on development of information technology.

Telepower is a two-day conference sponsored by Fort Hays State University's Docking Institute of Public Affairs. In addition to the Kansas Association of Counties, the conference is sponsored by Southwestern Bell, Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, Rural Telephone, Information Network of Kansas, Garden City Information Technology Cooperative, Kansas Small Business Development Center, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, Utilicorp United, WestLink Communications, Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, Avaya Communication, Robert and Sheryl Cox, and Palm.

For more information or to register to attend Telepower 2001, contact Cathy Drabkin at (785) 628-5952 or visit the conference Web site at www.fhsu.edu/docking/telepower.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu