The Southern Ozarks Alliance for Rural Development (S.O.A.R.) will meet at 1 p.m. Friday in the Chas. Ferguson Building 127 E. Main St., Willow Springs.
The meeting will focus on rural high speed internet development, STEM education and questions about the when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, said SOAR Coordinator Wendell Bailey.
On the topic of rural high speed internet development, Tim Lewis with Sho-Me Power and Kelly Bosserman with Peace Valley Telephone will speak about the purchase of FCC-regulated shares of high speed internet frequencies. Bosserman will explain that he purchased the frequencies for all of Howell and Shannon counties and he would like to use power poles from Sho-Me to help distribute wireless internet signals to rural residents.
Stephanie Johnson with University of Missouri Extension, eMINTS State Coordinator Ted Brinkerhoff and interim Dean Dennis Lancaster with Missouri State University-West Plains will also be in attendance.
eMINTS is an education program designed to train educators with a focus on technology in the classroom and social interaction and student research. It was first established in 2000 through a partnership between the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Missouri Department of Higher Education and MU.
Bailey added there will be discussion during the meeting on providing STEM education in K-12 rural schools.
According Bailey, Howell County Health Board President Dr. Robert Shaw and/or Howell County Health Department Administrator Chris Gilliam may be in attendance to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, including how and when it could end.
Local elected officials such as Sen. Karla Eslinger, Rep. David Evans and Rep. Bennie Cook will be in attendance as well as representatives from Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Josh Hawley and Rep. Jason Smith’s offices.
The meeting is free and open to the public to observe. It is expected to last about 90 minutes.