Sunday, August 01, 2004

Kasandra and Marc Basham, 12-year-old residents of Abel Court Apartments, want to have computers of their own. Now they can use one of five computers in the lab at Abel Court, but those machines are only available when apartment manager Debbie Fugate is free to supervise.

The Bashams want to learn to type well and use computers for their homework. But thats tough to do when theyre only available for a short time each day especially when theyve got late-night homework projects.

Soon Kasandra and Marc, other Abel Court residents and some from the surrounding area will get what they want, thanks largely to members of the Bowling Green Area Microcomputer User Group: more machines, longer access, more software and eventually, computers of their own.

Abel Court used two earlier Select Neighborhood Action Plan grants from the city to build its current lab. A third SNAP grant, for $2,205, was approved in July. It will be used to add a 12-by-12-foot room for the computers soon to be added.

With the room will come help from the computer club in the form of classes and volunteers to monitor Internet use, said Jerry Gillette, vice president of membership for the club.

The computer users group held a kickoff party at Abel Court from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. A half-dozen members came to tour the computer lab for the first time. Some cooked hot dogs for more than 20 residents and visitors, more than half of them children.

The unique thing about this is how the community uses SNAP grants and other grants that are available, Gillette said. Theyve taken an old lawnmower shed and turned it into a computer lab.

Gillette saw an ad that Fugate placed in the Country Peddler, seeking help from volunteers.

This is ideal for our computer club, Gillette said. Were all people who love to share our knowledge of computers.

Club members will hold regular group classes and individual sessions on computer operation.

Heather Borders, 14, who lives nearby, has a computer at home but she looks forward to using the lab to improve her typing skill and doing research in the interactive encyclopedia on the labs computers.

Using parts from a variety of sources, club members will show program participants how to build individual computers.

So in the end, theyll have a computer of their own, Gillette said.

John Walker, a Western Kentucky University student and Afni employee, assembled most of the current computers and donated 11 monitors to go with the computers that the students will build for themselves, Fugate said.

These will be households that do not have computer access, or computers at home, she said.

Abel Court resident Thelma Lawson said she hasnt used the lab before, but plans to as it enlarges. A computer novice, she would like to learn about Web site design to use on the job or doing community service work.

I just want to learn how to operate one, Lawson said.

Fugate is still looking among nonprofit organizations for sponsors to back each person building a computer. The parts will cost about $300 per computer, she said.  Daily News ·813 College St. ·PO Box 90012 ·Bowling Green, KY ·42102 ·270-781-1700