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KERSHAW – A recently received federal grant has already reaped benefits for folks like Bobby Stevens.
About once a week, the Kershaw resident visits that town’s branch of the Lancaster County Library to look for jobs.
Most of those searches are done on the Internet, which Stevens has become quite fond of.
Now he speaks of how nice it is to browse on newer computers.
The Kershaw library and the Kershaw-Heath Springs branch of York Technical College on Fork Hill Road feature new computers thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Kershaw’s York Tech location now has 20 new Dell computers with broadband (high-speed) Internet access that are set up in what will be known as the Community Computer Center, said Ernie Green, York Tech’s dean of off-campus centers.
The computer center, just a few yards behind the college’s main academic building, is connected to the Kershaw branch of the Lancaster County Library.
Those computers have been in use more than a month already, though officials used Thursday to officially announce the receipt of the hardware.
“It’s a great partnership,” Green said about working with the library on the grant. “That’s really the purpose of this initiative – dealing with broadband and accessibility.”
The computers come as part of a $5.9 million grant to the S.C. Technical College System, which includes York Tech and 15 other schools.
The goal is to establish a statewide network of 70 public computer centers to expand broadband and computer access in rural, underserved and unserved populations.
York Tech students, adult education participants and people taking classes through the Department of Social Services are among those who will use the computers in Kershaw.
York Tech is also working with the library on scheduling times when seminars could be offered to the public.
“We needed a classroom setting for people to learn computer skills,” county library director Richard Band said. “People have got to have these skills to get a job.”
Seven of the computers that had previously been in York Tech’s Community Computer Center have since been donated to the library.
Those seven replace some of the library’s older PCs, which have been transferred to the library’s main branch in Lancaster.
Stevens, who’s been laid off twice within the last three years, says it’s a major benefit to have public computer access.
On Thursday, he worked his way through a list of websites that may help him land that next job. He said he no longer feels intimidated about navigating the Internet.
“Everywhere you go, you got to get on a computer,” Stevens said, referring to skills needed to secure jobs today. “It’s getting easy for me.”
For details about York Tech’s Community Computer Center, call (803) 475-2833.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at 283-1152