1998 Annual Report 
La Plaza Telecommunity

Internet Access
Education and Training
Third Party Funding
Corporate Sponsors
Community Outreach
Public Access
Proposed Projects
Questa Demonstration Project
International Visitors
La Plaza Staff
Financial Statement (Available upon request at La Plaza Office)


Mission Statement
La Plaza Telecommunity’s mission is to improve communication and information sharing in Northern New Mexico by providing our rural tricultural communities with:

La Plaza is beginning the sixth year of information technology service to Northern New Mexico. 1998 has been a successful year for La Plaza. Technology has been upgraded, user base has grown, revenue has been produced through service fees, and public access use continues to be a vital component of service to the communities of Taos, Questa and Penasco.

I want to emphasize the importance of information to social welfare by telling the story of

"Juneteenth." June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 slaves in Texas first learned that Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation proclamation. Lincoln actually signed the proclamation much earlier-in 1863. But the Texas slaves deprived of this information had to wait two and half more years before finally achieving freedom.

Today, it is hard to imagine anybody being denied information so vital to his or her well being for so long. By 1998, we may assume that every American has at least heard of, if not used, the global computer network called the Internet. But while kids in wealthier households may take access to technology – at home, at school, or at the local library – for granted, the lack of access to up-to-date computers in low-income communities and to affordable Internet service in rural areas leaves many people cut off from good jobs and the chance to participate in the affairs of the broader society.

La Plaza Telecommunity seeks to equalize the technology gap in Northern New Mexico.

Affordable Internet service is offered and free public access provided in the La Plaza Learning Center; as well as, free Internet classes. La Plaza has partnered with the Questa Youth Center and the Penasco School District to offer free public access with a local community outreach trainer to these two small, isolated communities. These public access sites are used to facilitate the kind of networking and exchange of information vital to community building.

In the past 5 years approximately 5000 people have been trained by La Plaza in use of the Internet and web design. Many of our enthusiastic users are youth under the age of

18 years; however, the Senior Citizens have become interested in the use of information technology and use the public access labs and enroll in Internet classes.

By the year 2000, 60 percent of jobs will require skills with technology, according to Larry Irving, Department of Commerce. Moreover, the Office of Management and Budget states, 75 percent of all transactions between individuals and the government – including such services as delivery of food stamps, Social Security of benefits, and

Medicaid information – will take place electronically. People without technology skills or access to communications will be at a considerable disadvantage.

Clearly, La Plaza’s mission is defined even more distinctly with these percentages thus intervention and education remains the goal for information technology to Northern New Mexico.

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Internet Access

Internet Access was made even more effective and accessible in January, 1998 with a new user fee of $15.00 per month for unlimited access. The transition from 24 analog modems to 76 digital modems was completed in June 1998. The U.S. Robotics digital hardware provided for fast and reliable Internet service. The busy signals that our users were experiencing ceased with the install of the new modems!

La Plaza upgraded the modem software to V.90; a modem communication standard developed by and agreed upon by the creators of both Kflex and x2 modems. Previously, x2 modems could only communicate with x2 modems and 56K modems with Kflex modems at 56 K. With the V.90 install, La Plaza can now communicate with both modem standards.

The Board developed and approved an Acceptable Use Police, Billing Policy, and a Learning Center Policy. On-line registration was implemented in May 1998, which included the 3 policies as part of the registration. A secure system provided for payment by credit card with immediate access if registering on-line.

The Technology staff developed a Monitoring, Maintenance, and Reporting procedure for coverage of the La Plaza system. The MMR procedure allows for coverage 7 days a week and 14 hours per day. This has proved to be most effective and the only time the system has been down since implementation is due to power outages by Kit Carson Electric Company, and line problems with USWest.

The communities of Penasco and Questa continue to receive Internet service via the

56Kbps line and 5 dial in modems. Once the installation of the Questa demonstration project is completed, plans are to add 3 modems in Questa.

Table #1 reveals monthly dial in statistics for Taos, Questa and Penasco:
Nov-97 1669 1152 48 74
Dec-97 1684 1117 47 80
Feb-98 1335 685 44 70
Mar-98 1505 1039 49 76
Apr-98 1523 1065 51 85
May-98 1570 1087 53 90
Jun-98 1597 1099 56 92
Jul-98 1727 1162 57 93
Aug-98 1640 1110 50 91
Sep-98 1755 1212 55 95
Oct-98 Unavailable

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Education and Training

Providing opportunity to use and/or learn to use computer technology is of course one of the fundamental objectives of the La Plaza Learning Center. Learning to use a computer without some sort of ulterior goal in mind would be useless. Having access to computer technology means having access to a new set of tools – tools that can be used in myriad ways to help achieve work, life, and learning goals.

La Plaza revised the free Internet classes and developed new web design classes for the public:

Table # 2 reveals monthly data of classes:
Nov-97 63
Dec-97 48
Jan-98 69
Feb-98 78
Mar-98 58
Apr-98 26
May-98 10
Jun-98 50
Jul-98 33
Aug-98 26
Sep-98 60
Oct-98 49


La Plaza held the first annual "Wacky for the Web" Computer Camp for youngsters ages 12 through 14 years of age. The curriculum involved use of the computer, Internet services, web design, digital camera, and research for school projects. The camp will be held again in 1999 with more weeks planned so more youth can participate.

Taos County Community Wellness Council requested Internet classes for a group of non-English speaking Hispanic women to enhance their GED classes. Loretta Suazo,

La Plaza Learning Center Manager, developed a simple curriculum in Spanish and installed a Spanish version in Internet Explorer, for the classes. None of the women had ever used a computer and were somewhat intimidated in the beginning. The group were taught the requisites of the keyboard, use of the mouse, Windows 95, and then the Internet services of email and the WWW. The 8, 4 hour classes were successful for all the participants! They are now emailing family members in Mexico, children living in other parts of the country, and each other! Obviously, the GED class content was enhanced; however, more importantly, the women's self-esteem grew by the empowerment of having learned to use information technology.

Private and Public School Use of the Learning Center Lab:

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Third Party Funding Sources

W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Human Resources for Information Systems Management initiative, funded from May 1995 to May 1998, ended with all goals and objectives met. The third year evaluation, developed by Dr. Forouz Joucar, and the final report were sent to Kellogg in June. Mr. Antonio Gomez, Kellogg project director, visited La Plaza on October 22, 1998 and conducted a site visit with the staff. Mr. Gomez complimented La Plaza on the successful completion of the$950,000 grant and noted the financial sustainability of La Plaza due to the revenue from the value-added services.

The Kellogg Foundation approved a $65,457 request to provide training to designated teachers in the public schools in Taos, Questa and Penasco. Nancy Montano, Content Developer/Outreach Coordinator, developed a curriculum and has begun the training for the 12 month grant.

National Library of Medicine Fellowship
Barbara Hau, MSPRN, applied and was approved for a 2 year Fellowship from the National Library of Medicine. La Plaza Telecommunity is the sponsoring agency and

Dr. Sandra Zink, LANL, is the fellow mentor. The Fellowship offers Ms. Hau additional professional training to promote information technology within public and private health venues. The first year provides for academic training and development of curriculum for training; the second year provides for actual demonstration of the curriculum to health care providers.

Barbara Hau was project director for the Department of Commerce, NTIA grant that was funded for two years (1996-97). The grant provided training to health care providers and consumers, in three Taos County clinics, for accessing information regarding diabetes on the WWW. Barbara became very interested in expanding the training and developing a curriculum for health care providers in searching the WWW for medical resources.

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Corporate Sponsors

La Plaza has been fortunate in developing relationships with regional corporations in sponsoring public access, hardware, community development and awareness, and providing technical support. The following corporations have donated money, hardware, expertise, and inkind support to enhance the services to La Plaza’s users.

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Community Outreach

Community Outreach is the process of publicizing the activities and accomplishments of La Plaza Telecommunity. These activities generate community interest and increase the visibility of La Plaza in our community. La Plaza had several goals and marketing strategies for this purpose.

Outreach Goals:

Outreach Strategies: This contest was for junior and senior high school age youth in Taos County. 130 essays were submitted and the community committee chose two of the essays as the winners. Sasha Kitchens, a junior at Questa High School, and Drake Malu, an 11-year-old boy, living in Questa and being home schooled. Each time a new user registered because of a referral from a user with an active email account, the referring user is given a $5.00 discount. Newspaper articles were developed, weekly announcements were submitted, and ads were placed in the Taos News Tempo section. This camp was created for young people to become interested and learn more about using information technology in a fun, flexible environment. Table#3 reveals monthly data for new registered users.
Nov-97 132
Dec-97 79
Jan-98 70
Feb-98 111
Mar-98 167
Apr-98 111
May-98 102
Jun-98 97
Jul-98 118
Aug-98 121
Sep-98 184
Oct-98 133

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Public Access and/or Open Lab Time

Public access offers members of the communities in Taos, Questa and Penasco the opportunity to use the computer and information technology to explore their own interests, to develop skills, and to discover what technology can do. Public access is offered at no cost to the participants. The public access sites are listed below:

Table #4 reveals the monthly data for public access. (If blank, no data submitted)
La Plaza San Cristobal Penasco Questa
Nov-97 1056 18 146
Dec-97 1061 52 187
Jan-98 1064 44 246
Feb-98 1023 41
Mar-98 1194 74 214
Apr-98 1057 229 285
May-98 865 35 185 375
Jun-98 1073 223 334
Jul-98 935 25 308
Aug-98 1016 37 154
Sep-98 1089 35 29
Oct-98 1265 23 276 89

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Proposed Projects

La Plaza Telecommunity is involved in several proposed projects. The following have been submitted in 1998 and are being evaluated for determination of approval:

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Questa Demonstration Project/State Radio and Communications Department

La Plaza Telecommunity was invited by the State Radio and Communications Department to collaborate in a demonstration project to provide data connectivity between the Village of Questa, New Mexico and La Plaza located in the town of Taos.

The project demonstrates the ability of the State digital technology to provide digital links to remote, rural areas without broad bandwidth phone lines from telephone companies.

La Plaza’s Internet server will provide Internet services via wireless radio antennas to the Village offices, Questa health clinic, Questa youth center, and the Questa School District. The project is proposed for 12 months from date of install and all data of use will be presented to the State Legislature in 1999 to request future funding of similar projects.

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International Visitors

La Plaza hosted a group of Norwegians on November 24, 1998. The group came to the United States to learn how Information Technology can be utilized for electronic commerce, product design, distance education and work, community development and learning. The group visited Las Vegas, Nevada, University of Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Denver, Colorado.

The purpose for visiting La Plaza Telecommunity was to learn how to develop a community network and the impact on the community in education, business, health, and municipal government. La Plaza presented a presentation that included community people from health, education, business, youth representatives, Taos Pueblo, and city officials.

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La Plaza began the shift from grant funding for daily operations to generated revenue in 1997. In 1998, the Board of Directors reviewed and approved an increase of user fees that has begun to generate the required revenue to sustain the organizational infrastructure of La Plaza. The revenue for user fees for the past 10 months has exceeded the projected revenue in the original 1998 budget. The third party funding sources continue to provide supplemental funding of the operational expenses.

The 1998 third party funding sources are:

  1. 3 year grant ending May 31, 1998 – total from 1/98 to 5/98 is $154,287
  2. 1 year grant from June 1998 to June 1999 - $64,457 (allocated for 7 months in 1998 is $37,600)
1st year funding is $47,572 (allocated for 51/2 months in 1998 is 26,065) The 1998 budgeted revenue and expense line items have balanced and the budget has been amended only to reflect a cautious tone regarding revenue. The 1998 audit will determine the accurateness of the forecasted revenue for this year.

La Plaza received from the IRS a Letter of Determination with an exempt status as a

501c3 nonprofit agency. The letter stated La Plaza is not a private foundation within the meaning of section 5092 of the IRS Code. The Board approved a resolution to change the name from La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation, Inc. to La Plaza Telecommunity. The New Mexico Corporation Commission in October 1998 approved the name change.

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La Plaza Staff

Board of Directors 1998
Arnold Lopez, President
Thos Myers, Vice President
Mats Wichman, Treasurer
Debbie J. Lujan, Secretary
Daniel Bayless
Chris Gunn
Martin Meltzer
Ira Schwartz
Peter Stazione
Judith Pepper, Executive Director

Judith Pepper, Executive Director
Michael Bearden, Technology Director
Loretta Suazo, Learning Center Manager
Jovanna, Poe, Learning Center Assistant
Debbie Medina, Bookkeeper
Timothy Corcoran, Field Support Technician
Nancy Montano, Content Development/Outreach Coordinator
Barbara Hau, National Library of Medicine Fellow
Rene Martinez, Questa Outreach Coordinator
Irene Romero, Penasco Outreach Coordinator

Gilbert Gallagos
Marsha Kuska
Jeffery Martinez
Carlos Romero
Nancy Thornham

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La PLaza Telecommunity