Blog Archive

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Glasgow's Economy -- We have an Idea or Two

Even though I now sport a head full of thinning gray hair, I still am not old enough to know all of the story behind why the large industries, that once were the economic backbone of our community, originally came to Glasgow. But a large part of the story likely involved the fact that, back in the 60's and 70's, labor and land were cheap here compared to the large cities. Those advantages, coupled with the robust and underutilized infrastructure, and a highly dedicated pool of workers, that already existed in places like Glasgow, lead facilities like R.R. Donnelley, Tyson Bearing, Eaton Axle, and Mallory Capacitor to come here, and provide employment and prosperity here, for many years. Unfortunately, those same advantages are now available to companies in places far from Glasgow, and, as we all know, some of our key industries, the former lynch-pins of our prosperity, are leaving Glasgow to drink from those new reserves of cheap land and labor.

What should we do to reinvent ourselves and create new reasons for companies to come here and offer jobs and prosperity to our community? Perhaps everyone has an idea or two about how to answer that, but we are working on one of our own that you might want to know more about. Our idea is another angle on the principles which underlie our Sustainable Glasgow initiative. In other words, we thinking about new ways to improve our local economy by drawing upon assets that we already possess. Sustainable Glasgow presently focuses on factories that we own that are not about to leave - our land and our ability to grow food on that land. The new idea that Glasgow EPB and Glasgow Barren County IDEA are working together on also focuses on the assets that are unique to Glasgow which cannot be easily copied by another community.

Glasgow already possesses robust utility infrastructure. We have redundant water plants. Our water supply at Barren River Reservoir is virtually limitless. Our electric system is about to have redundant feeds to the community. We have our own hospital and that hospital serves as the nucleus for a large network of health care professionals. Perhaps most unique, we own our own fiber-rich broadband network which is already connected to a large number of internet-based electric meters and connected to every one of the other assets listed above.

It just so happens that, in 2010, the planets are lining up for the whole world to be interested in learning how to deliver electric power and health care in a more efficient manner, using a robust broadband network. Many, many manufacturers of the technology which will be necessary to deliver electric power via a “smart grid” will be looking for a place to conduct pilot projects and tests of their technology. Similarly, folks who write software and invent new medical devices that need broadband connections to complete the improvements they claim for health care will be looking for a place to test their inventions. In our mind, that puts Glasgow in a perfect position to offer itself up to these companies as a laboratory for them to conduct the research. Looking over the horizon, if we can successfully sell ourselves as a laboratory, perhaps some of the technology tested here will become very successful and the inventors will then need a place to manufacture those devices. If that comes to pass, maybe our old buildings that formerly produced parts for the automotive industry will be reborn as places where new appliances and high tech devices are made. Perhaps this will be the rebirth of our economy. Isn’t it worth trying?

So, that is the vision we are presently pursuing in the hope of breathing new life into our economy. Already we have accepted a couple of small demonstration projects for heat pump water heaters and ductless heat pumps through TVA and EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute). We just completed a proposal to Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence for a two year long project to evaluate new energy saving appliances created by General Electric (read more about that here), in partnership with the Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU, University of Kentucky, and muNet, Inc. Soon we will be applying for another smart grid demonstration project through TVA. We are even trying to convince the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to pilot the planned Kentucky Health Information Exchange (more information about this here) network here in Glasgow.

Will any of these proposals be accepted? We don’t know. Will the use of Glasgow as a laboratory for new technology ideas immediately bring in a lot of new jobs? While not likely as an immediate result, we definitely believe this may be the ultimate result.
The most important thing about this story is that we have ideas – new ones, that might possibly turn into very big ideas for our little community. These ideas are not the kind that totally depend upon the whims of a small group of board members in a distant city or country. These ideas can be enriched and supported by the people who live here and show their willingness to be a part of these experiments. This kind of economic development is like planting a garden and growing our own food. No one can take this away from us so long as we continue to work and pull together as a strong, united community.

We will keep you posted when something is ripe and ready for the picking!

Solar Cable Outages -- A Rite of Spring

The delivery of cable television programming bounced off of an orbiting satellite is an amazingly useful and reliable way to get a wide variety of entertainment, but, twice a year, it has some hiccups. Over the next few days those hiccups will affect your television viewing for ten to fifteen minutes per day. Then it will happen again in late summer at the end of September and first of October.

During the equinoxes, as the apparent path of the sun across our sky moves from the southern latitudes toward the northern ones (bringing with it SPRING!!), our satellite dish has trouble picking up the signals from the satellites out in space which are transmitting the cable programming. Anyone who has driven by our offices, and observed the giant dish looking at the southern sky, has seen the technology we use to deliver most of the cable channels you see in your homes. Except for about eighteen days per year, that dish easily receives those signals from a number of satellites parked out about 22,000 miles in the sky.

On those other days, the sun actually moves directly into a line stretching from the sun, to the satellites and then to our dish behind 100 Mallory Drive in Glasgow, Kentucky. For the time that those three elements line up (normally about 20 minutes per day), the satellite dish is blinded by the sun and cannot "see" the satellite. That results in your cable programming getting sparkles in it, then progressively getting worse until it actually falls apart for a few minutes. Then, as the sun moves along and the satellite reappears from the glare, the programming starts returning to normal gradually.

So, over the next few days, anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. you might see this happening. Do not be alarmed. It just means that Spring is arriving in Glasgow!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There's a New Channel (or two) in Town

Few conversations have taken place in Glasgow recently that did not include some discussion of the weather. In fact, we talked about it so much at the EPB that we decided to add a new channel dedicated to nothing but Glasgow weather! If you check out channel 42 on our cable system, you can see the new channel that we have yet to name. You will notice that it is customized with the EPB logo and it features the latest local conditions from our local weather station. It features local radar views which toggle back and forth from zoomed in to Barren and surrounding counties, to a view of Kentucky and Tennessee. It is really a constant flow of the sort of information that we all were accustomed to seeing on The Weather Channel during their “Local on the 8's” segment, that is before they started interrupting it all of the time with long form programming that few are interested in seeing. We will also be helping to pay for the equipment necessary to create the new channel by selling local advertising on the sides of the main weather window. You will also hear music from the many different channels available to you through our DMX service that comes along with any of our Digital Tier packages. Tonight, as this is written, the audio accompanying the weather on channel 42 is from the digital channel 406 - Lite Classical, and I feel more cultured just sitting here listening to it! So, you can now dominate all conversations about the weather just from the knowledge you will gain by beginning to watch Channel 42 on EPB channel 42. No longer will you be dependent upon any of the many weather persons on the various broadcast channels on our cable service. With EPB Cable and our new 42, you will be able to watch the weather without it being interrupted for a Power Ball drawing!

There is also another new channel up in the High Definition Tier as well. ESPNU-HD is now available on channel 505. And, just to keep all of the ESPN programming together and in nice neat order, we moved ESPN2-HD up to channel 506. Now you can watch those UK and U of L basketball games on ESPNU in high definition!