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Log on to Carson Valley

by Linda Hiller

Looks can be deceiving. A sleepy little Valley, with bucolic scenes such as cattle lowing and hawks soaring against a snow-covered mountain backdrop can harbor another world altogether, right below the surface.

Specifically, right in the phone lines, where the Internet has been slowly flowing in, finding its way to businesses, organizations and homes throughout the Carson Valley.

The change has really taken place in earnest during the last three years.

In that short time, Douglas County has become web savvy to the point where now anyone with very little computer ability and Internet experience can learn volumes by spending an hour or so surfing county sites.

Because so many sites are linked to each other, traveling from the one site to another is very natural. Links are connections from one website to another.

For example, when you go to the Douglas County Library site and find that you’d like to get more information from another county office, you can link to that site with the click of a mouse.

The Douglas County Library website, (http://douglas.lib.nv.us), is under the direction of Linda Deacy, adult service coordinator. It may be the oldest official site in the county. The page itself has been on line for three years, Deacy said.

“We are getting ready to upgrade the site with a new system,” she said. “Eventually patrons will be able to log on with their password and search books and hold them, renew books, see what fines they owe, what they have checked out and much more.”

Currently, information about both libraries – the branch at Zephyr Cove and the Minden branch – are available on site, including phone numbers, hours of operation and other useful facts. Surfers can also look at maps of how to get to the library, see a catalog of books and find out about other libraries in Nevada.

The library site also has a section called “Library cats,” where users can find out about Baker and Taylor, the library’s famous mascots, and also access a map of the United States to find out about the library cats in each state.

From the library, you can link to another “early” site – the Douglas County Forum, originated by Suzy Stockdale of the marketing and advertising firm, Stockdale and Crum.

“I originally started this site with the last election year to get information out about candidates and issues,” she said. “I thought it would be neat to have it on the Internet.”

She wrote a letter to each candidate in Douglas County, asking for a photograph and platform statement, and then gave each respondent their own page.

“This was non-partisan with the goal of helping us all to be better informed,” she said. “I think we are dependent on informed voters to make good decisions.”

Those who found the site could ask the candidates questions and many times the interaction spurred some interesting exchanges, she said.

After the election, Stockdale said she had planned to quit offering the website, but it just became “a habit.”

Though it is a financial liability, she said making it available to residents is more of an investment in her mind. Nanosecond, No Stress Express and Noble Savage Graphics help sponsor the site.

Those who find the site at (http://www.sctalk.com) can find out the latest news headlines affecting the county, participate in a discussion about the issues and link to many of Stockdale and Crum’s customers, such as Bently Nevada, PolyPhaser, Draperies by Lummus and others.

“I’ve had contacts from as far away as Australia and Alaska,” Stockdale said. “They might say something like, ‘I found your site and Douglas County, Nevada sounds like a really great place to live.'”

Stockdale said she encouraged her clients to consider the Internet as an important part of their marketing and advertising package.

“Right now, the challenge is to understand the investment of the Internet in marketing,” she said. “Maybe in a couple of years it will take the place of some of the things we currently use, but right now we’re just starting to see its value and work it into the whole picture. Personally, I think it’s wonderful.”

Nanosecond, Inc. is probably the oldest Internet service provider in the Valley, though they have only been on line for more than three years.

Owners Shirley Isenagle and her husband Patrick Tafoya have more than 20 years experience in computers and started Nanosecond for what Shirley said is a selfish reason.

“We actually started the business because we wanted to have a local access service ourselves,” Isenagle said. “We are the only home-based service here in the Carson Valley. We almost moved to Carson City like others have, but we decided we want to serve the Carson Valley and we can do it best here.”

Over the last three years, the couple has had to move the business three times to accommodate the need for more equipment to handle their growing customer base.

“The Internet brings the whole world into a 14-inch box in people’s homes, visible to the naked eye,” Isenagle said. “When you think about it that way, it’s amazing.”

Nanosecond has its own site, (http://www.nanosecond.com/).

There, you can get information about hooking up with them and see web pages that some of their customers have created, such as Meadowdale Theaters 3, where you can see what movies are playing and the Songbird Survival Project, where you can order Howard Godecke’s Seedsox.

Through Douglas County’s official site (www.co.douglas.nv.us), users go to the county assessor’s or the county recorder’s page, find out statistical information about the county (did you know the county population is 50.3 percent male?) and link to other related sites including the state of Nevada, schools and universities, or to the (www.tahoe.com) website, which has news stories and classified ads from six area newspapers, including The Record-Courier.

At this site, users can also see a visitors guide, a diversion site with gaming tips, wedding and ski information, current weather reports and more. It is the only site with up-to-date news, and readers of the six newspapers can e-mail their letters to the editor through this site.

Among other Valley sites are the new Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority (www.carsonvalleynv.org), Tahoeweb, a new Lake Tahoe internet service provider, Carson Valley Inn, Pau Wa Lu Middle School and Tim Rainey, a freshman at Carson Valley Middle School, who is a weekend disc jockey at KGVM-FM radio and also operates a mobile music business (www.angelfire.com/nv/rnrmobilemusic).

“I taught myself how to do a webpage, found a place where you can get free webpages and went ahead and designed my own,” Rainey said.

For residents who don’t have Internet access, the Minden library has a terminal which is dedicated specifically to free Internet use. Nanosecond plans to add two terminals with high speed downloading available for rent.

Monthly charges for Internet access average $20 for non-commercial accounts, and computers as “old” as a 486 with a modem (the part that hooks your computer up to the phone lines, making Internet access possible) can become your vessel to the world.

Valley rancher Arnold Settelmeyer, said his son James utilizes the Internet in the business of running their large cattle enterprise adjacent to the banks of the Carson River.

“We use it to track the river on a daily basis,” he said. “It was really helpful during the flood.”

Settelmeyer also said getting current figures on beef and feed prices is useful to ranchers.

“The buyers always had the advantage in the past because of the instant information, and now it helps us,” he said.

Buying parts for farm equipment is also easier through the web, he said.

“I was having a hard time finding a new seat for my truck and James got on the Internet and found two or three,” Settelmeyer said. “It was great.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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