By JOSH MCDONALD
Shoshone County residents had several opportunities to chat with Idaho’s District 7 State Senator Carl Crabtree (R) on Wednesday as he held several town hall style meetings across the area.
Meetings were held at Canyon Elementary, Wallace Brewing, the 1313 Club for the Wallace Chamber of Commerce, and then again at the Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce Office in Kellogg.
Crabtree discussed a myriad of topics with his constituency during the day, but the conversations at all the meetings really seemed centered toward broadband internet and how it affects education.
For his work on the Idaho Broadband Task Force, he spoke about the importance of reliable, high speed internet in rural areas and even compared it to the expansion of railroads and electricity in early America.
“I see the internet as vital today as the railroad was to settling the West,” Crabtree said. “We couldn’t move commodities and people quick enough so we built the railroad. And then later on electricity came to the big cities, but it didn’t come to the rural parts of the country so they created rural electrification co-ops. They were able to serve those rural areas. That’s how I see the internet, as the new railroad or electricity.”
Crabtree’s main focus on the internet has been tied directly to education, in fact he has a growing concern with students in his district having to compete for seats at colleges despite having limited access to quality internet as students in major metro areas where the internet isn’t an issue.
“It’s essential for our kids today,” Crabtree said. “They need to be able to do things like turn in homework assignments, or at the very least be able to work on projects without having to use only programs that are downloaded on the computer themselves.”
He also believes that broadband will revitalize the economies in the rural areas and attract younger families to the areas who will be able to be remotely employed from home.
“If we can address the internet issue then we can try to attract those young families from places like Seattle, where both parents work from home and are raising their kids in a small apartment,” Crabtree said. “These people want to get out of the cities and come to places like here in the Silver Valley to raise their families. But they can’t because the limited internet keeps them from being able to work their remote jobs.”
Senator Carl Crabtree maintains an open communication policy and invites locals to call or text him at (208) 983-8188 or email at email@example.com where they can also received his newsletter.