1997 Annual Report
La Plaza Telecommunity Overview
W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant
Department of Commerce Grant
McCune Foundation Grant
Announcement of New Service and Fee Structure
La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation's mission is to improve communication and information sharing in Northern New Mexico by providing our rural tricultural communities with:
- access to information technology resources,
- education in computer and Internet technology,
- a virtual library of regional information and resources.
La Plaza Telecommunity Overview
La Plaza has evolved to a telecommunity network being used by Taos County residents and businesses. Taos Municipal Schools, Penasco School District, Questa School District, Tres Peidras Elementary, Taos Pueblo Day School, and Chamisa Mesa High School are connected and the students and teachers are using the information super highway to enhance the classroom curriculum. The Taos/Picuris Indian Health Services Clinic at Taos Pueblo, Questa Health Clinic and Penasco Health Clinic are connected and health information is provided to the consumers by a Community Outreach Trainer. Free public access is provided at the main offices at La Plaza, Taos Public Library, Questa Youth Center, Penasco High School, the 3 health clinics, and soon to be in two schools in Taos Municipal Schools.
La Plaza survived a security breach and invasion by national and international hackers in September, 1997. The security breach caused an evaluation and revision of the UNIX system provided to all users. This change was imminent and necessary for La Plaza to provide the users with security of their accounts and files.
La Plaza has undergone an organizational restructuring of board members and administrative staff. Personnel policies were developed and approved by the staff and board, job descriptions and personnel evaluations have been implemented, and staff continue to be committed to the growth and development of La Plaza Telecommunity. The Bylaws convention was held on line, with much discussion and revision! The Bylaws were ratified by the members and the revision will be sent to the New Mexico Corporation Commission for approval.
The staff and board has reestablished La Plaza in Taos County as a credible nonprofit agency, providing information technology to the entire county. The W.K.Kellogg Foundation evaluation was conducted by Dr. Forouz Joukar in the spring and provided objective information for Kellogg and La Plaza regarding the reorganization of La Plaza.
Dr. Joukar stated, "It is imperative to emphasize that the transformation of La Plaza be taken as a major success in clearing the way for implementing the goals, and that in no way should this be considered a setback........La Plaza now has a great chance to clearly define and succeed in its mission."
User fees were developed and implemented April 1, 1997. This was done with much trepidation by the Board and has proved to be a successful generator of income for La Plaza. La Plaza is now experiencing the process of sustainability for operational costs, as are all telecommunites in the United States. The term "value added services" has become a reality for La Plaza, and we are challenged with meeting the information technology needs of Taos County residents.
The staff requested monthly staff meetings to discuss departmental needs, technology needs, collaboration of staff assignments in meeting grant goals and objectives, personnel issues, and to develop a cohesive team approach to the management and daily operations of La Plaza. The meetings have proved to be effective in sharing of information and in developing ownership by the staff of the La Plaza mission and services.
Numerous local, state and national organizations have been contacted to appraise their computer capabilities and needs, either in terms of equipment and /or training, and to request support for La Plaza. Most are very enthusiastic about working with La Plaza. Some of those organizations include: Taos Municipal Schools, Town of Taos, Penasco School District, Questa Schools, private schools, Senators Bobby Gonzales and Carlos Cisneros, Community Wellness Council, New Mexico Department of Labor, Holy Cross Hospital, New Mexico Corporation Commission, New Mexico Department of Health, Taos/Picuris Indian Health Services Clinic, Taos Museum Association, Senators Jeff Bingamin and Pete Domenici, and many others.
La Plaza had two major funding sources with Department of Commerce, NTIA grant, and W.K.Kellogg Foundation. The NTIA grant was extended to December 31, 1997 and the Kellogg Foundation grant is scheduled to end May 31, 1998. An extension for the Kellogg grant was submitted requesting additional funding to provide Teacher Training for Taos, Questa, and Penasco School Districts. The request is currently being considered.
A CPA consultant was hired to review the accounting system. Pamela Alford, CPA, developed a fund accounting reporting system, a budget to actual data on the various sources of funding and a system to forecast revenue and expenses for unrestricted funds. Ms. Alford also developed a proforma Indirect Cost Proposal which represents a format for future proposals in requesting a provisional rate to permit funding of indirect cost under the award.
The annual audit for 1996 was received on November 11, 1997. The Management Letter was unqualified which provides for a sound financial audit. Lyle Bawden, CPA, conducted the audit and found three areas of weaknesses, two of which were corrected when a new bookkeeper was hired in February. The 1996 income tax return will be completed and submitted on November, 17, 1997. As the 1996 audit and tax return are complete, La Plaza has met all financial requirements in the bylaws, federal tax standards, and funding sources.
1997 has been a year of transition and change for La Plaza. The vision developed in 1993 to provide a community network for Taos County remains, it has only been refined in its' administration and delivery to the community. La Plaza's future requires an active membership assisting in educating and training in how best to use the community network in bringing local people together to discuss the community issues and opportunities, learn about technology, and decide upon and create services to address the needs and opportunities.
(partial list of actions taken by the Board, since the installation in December, 1996)
- Accepted the resignation of Patrick Finn from the Board, and his resignation as an employee of La Plaza.
- Accepted the resignation of Cyd Strickland as unsalaried "acting" Executive Director.
- Dismissed Paul Cross from the Board, and terminated his employment with La Plaza.
- Rehired Daniel Pruitt as Director of Technology of La Plaza.
- Accepted, with regret, the resignation of Tracy MacCallum from the Board.
- Determined that all regular meetings of the Board be announced and open to the members and public.
- Hired Linda Trujillo as bookkeeper of La Plaza.
- Arranged for settlement of the Meltzer, et al., lawsuit. The settlement called for a members' bylaws convention in the summer of 1997
- Set a user fee schedule of six dollars for six hours, with a charge of .75 cents per hour thereafter; this replace the previous schedule of 15 hours free, and $1.50 per hour thereafter. This new fee schedule has produced income of over $6000 per month.
- Accepted, with regret, the resignation of George Ellison from the Board.
- Elected Thomas Myers as Treasurer of the Board.
- Selected and hired Judith Pepper as Executive Director.
- Eliminated the post of Trading Post Manager, then held by Oban Lambie.
- Revoked all confidentiality agreements for board members and La Plaza employees except those relating to personnel and litigation.
- Implemented PPP connection at no charge.
- Hired Nancy Montano as Content Development and Outreach Coordinator for the Kellogg grant.
- Reduced membership fees from $60 to $30, with $10 as the minimum acceptable fee.
- Contracted with the Taos Municipal School District for wireless connection.
- Abolished the three-for-one credit hour award for volunteers, replacing it with an allowance of six credit hours for each eight hours worked; usable in the month of volunteer performance.
- Accepted, with regret, the resignation of Robin Collier fro the Board.
- Reviewed and approved personnel policies.
- Named Ed Ramsey, Debbie Lujan, and Miriam Foranda as replacement directors on the Board.
- Elected Debbie Lujan as Secretary to the Board.
- Conducted on-line Bylaws Convention with ratification by the members.
- Conducted on-line election for six new Board members.
And here we are.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant
La Plaza was awarded a three year grant of $910,000 from the W.K.Kellogg Foundation as a part of "Human Resources for Information Systems Management - Strategy II" initiative. The project goals were to: create virtual library, expand the existing La Plaza infrastructure to six rural points of presence in Northern New Mexico, and provide training and education to Taos County residents. The virtual library continues to be maintained and developed, the six points of presence was reduced to three, and training and education is ongoing.
The virtual library content was originally developed by a particular staff member. The organizations were not trained in developing and maintaining the content of their web pages. In March, a Content Development and Outreach Coordinator was hired to coordinate outreach with the community and to train community organizations in developing their own web pages. To date, 94 community organizations and individuals have been contacted, 18 have completed a Web Site Design Class, and 36 enrolled and completed an on line "Make the Link Workshop." The individuals completing the Web Site Design Class are developing web pages for inclusion in the virtual library and will have them on line by December 1997. Ten individuals and organizations will begin a new Web Site Design Class in mid-November. These classes represent the develop of the virtual library content and training of volunteers to teach the classes when the grant is completed in May, 1998.
La Plaza has 5 public access sites: La Plaza Learning Center Lab, Taos Public Library, Questa Youth Center, San Cristobal Learning Center, and the Penasco High School Lab. The grant funded the installation of routers, a server, 56 Kbps line, 5 modems and 5 phone lines for dial in service to Questa and Penasco School Districts.
Penasco Schools use the connectivity in daily school activity and provides public access after school. The grant has funded a Community Outreach Trainer to register users, provide training in accessing the World Wide Web, and in keeping the lab open for public access use. Questa schools have just recently gotten connected and will provide public access in the future. As the Questa Youth Center is in close proximity to the Questa High School, it was wired and has been providing public access the past year. Again, the grant funds a Community Outreach Trainer at the Questa Youth Center. The Taos Public Library is connected with a wireless antenna and provides 3 computers for public access. The San Cristobal Learning Center is a nonprofit entity in San Cristobal providing public access with one computer, the grant pays for the connectivity through May, 1998. The La Plaza Learning Center Lab provides free public access with 13 computers and education and training in scheduled classes and to public and private school students.
The education and training consists of Quickstart Classes, 39 classes and 293 attendees; Netscape classes, 6 classes and 30 attendees; Introduction to WWW, 11 classes and 125 attendees; Introduction to Email, 14 classes and 121 attendees; Public Orientation to La Plaza and Internet 8 classes and 86 attendees, and several offsite classes bringing a total of 88 classes and 693 trained attendees.
The grant goals and objectives will be completed at the closure of the grant in May, 1998. La Plaza is currently seeking other funding to maintain the cost of connectivity to the schools in Questa and Penasco to continue the free public access. If funding is not found, the communities will need to consider the value of the service and determine how the public access sites will remain open to the public.
Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration Grant
La Plaza was awarded the NTIA two year grant of $450,000 to develop a successful model for diabetes and hypertension prevention and management in a poor, rural, tricultural environment using information technology. The three sites chosen were Taos/Picuris Indian Health Services Clinic, Penasco Health Clinic and the Questa Health Clinic. The actual grant activity was late starting for many reasons, some unknown and some due to the changes of the La Plaza administration. The success of this grant is due largely to Barbara Hau, MSN,RN, project director and the technology staff of Daniel Pruitt, Mark Nettelton, and Michael Bearden. The grant was scheduled to end October 17, 1997; however, an extension request was approved through December 31, 1997.
Each clinic had purchased and given a PC and laptop for training of the health care providers, the consumers, and family members who are dealing with the disease of diabetes. The grant provided for the connectivity costs and a Community Outreach Trainer in each clinic. The COT was available 10 hours per week to assist in accessing health information at the clinic. Because of the tremendous curiosity of health problems by the providers and consumers, the access was not limited to diabetes. The COT assisted with any problem or concern, and the computers are now available for use by any and all consumers in each clinic.
The final report will be developed and submitted to the Department of Commerce in December, 1997. Barbara Hau, project director, will end employment with La Plaza as the grant provided funding for only two years.
Mrs. Hau has submitted a request for a fellowship to the Library of Medicine to continue the work she developed with health care in remote, rural areas in Northern New Mexico. If the fellowship is approved, La Plaza will be the sponsoring agency for the project. Mrs. Hau will office at La Plaza and provide a partnership with La Plaza for this major endeavor.
McCune Charitable Foundation Grant
La Plaza was awarded a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation to fund the costs of the community meeting and provide training for the newly elected La Plaza Board of Directors.
The community meeting was held on October 13, 1997 and 81 community members attended. Mr. Frank Odasz, consultant, spoke to the audience of the importance of a community network and how La Plaza has impacted the community. A brief discussion was held regarding the sustainability of La Plaza and a projected 1998 budget was presented to the audience. It was determined from the dialogue of the meeting to have more "hands on" meetings with the members and users of La Plaza. This is in future planning for service delivery.
The training for the board will be conducted by a consultant and discussion of board roles and responsibilities will be held. The duties for the offices will be presented, how to develop policy and procedure for the agency, and how to provide support to the staff without micromanaging the agency. The training will be held in December 1997 or January 1998 with the new Board of Directors.
Register Users - January 1, 1997 to October 31, 1997
January 202 February 191 March 110 April 126 May 90 June 105 July 147 August 140 September 167 October 153 Total 1434
Total Registered Users - 2,623
some of which are stale accounts. When the new fee structure is implemented and payment is required prior to use, the stale accounts will be deleted and an accurate number of registered users will be available.
Dial-In Status - April 1, 1997 to October 31, 1997
Total # of Users: 1930
(349 accounts which have been disabled due to nonpayment of account)
Total # of PPP Users: 1486
(76% of Total Dial-in)
Total Connect Time: 71,124.07 hours Penasco # Users: 88 Penasco # Sessions: 14,745 Penasco Total Time: 1,981.47 hours Questa # Users: 132 Questa # Sessions: 14,745 Questa Total Time: 4109.45 hours Taos # Users: 1,781 Taos # Sessions: 253,921 Taos Total Time: 65,033.15 hours