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Nebraska Information Technology Commission

Monday, May 17, 2004, 9:30 a.m.

Videoconference Sites:

Lincoln – Executive Building, Suite 101, 521 South 14th Street

Chadron – Chadron State College Student Center, Scottsbluff Room, 10th and Main

Kearney – Public Library, Information Center-2nd Floor, 2020 First Avenue

Norfolk – NECC MaClay Building, Room 122, 801 Benjamin Avenue

North Platte – McKinley Education Center, Room 1, 301 West F Street

South Sioux City – City Hall, 1615 1st Avenue


Members Present:Chris Anderson, K.C. Belitz, Len Benson, John Dale, Donna Hammack, Lance Hedquist, Roger Keetle, Pat Langan, Jeanne Saathoff, Bob Sweeney, Gene Hand, Lisa Dominisse, and Mary Wernke

Members Absent: Tim Armstrong, Norene Fitzgerald, Georgia Masters Keightley, Michael Nolan, Harold Krueger, Ted Smith, Max Thacker


Mr. Sweeney called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m. Mr. Sweeney asked Ms. Byers to conduct the rest of the meeting. Ms. Byers announced that the meeting announcement was posted on the NITC and Nebraska Public Meeting web sites on March 10, 2004 and that the agenda was posted to the NITC web site on May 12, 2004. There were twelve members present at the time of roll call. A quorum existed to conduct official business.


Mr. Keetle moved to approve the February 12, 2004 minutes as presented. Mr. Dale seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Anderson-Yes, Benson-Yes, Dale-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Keetle-Yes, Langan-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Hand-Yes, Wernke-Yes, and Dominisse-Yes. Results: Yes-12, No-0. The motion was carried by unanimous vote.


There was no public comment.


Gene Hand, Public Service Commission

The Nebraska Internet Enhancement Fund (NIEF) was created by state statute in 2001 (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 86-2306). The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to install and deliver broadband or other advanced telecommunications infrastructure and service throughout the state. The Legislature appropriated $250,000 in seed money to start the program. Funding sources include gifts, contributions, property, and equipment from public and private sources for purposes of the fund. One such source is from agencies and political subdivisions that lease dark fiber pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 86-2301 et seq., which requires that fifty percent of profits derived from such leases be remitted to the NIEF. The Advisory Council Board will make the recommendation to the Public Service Commission that there be a pre-application process. If applicant meets qualifications, criteria, and understands the purpose for the fund, they will be invited to apply. The following schedule will be recommended:

  • June 1st pre-application period will begin.
  • August 15th: Pre-applications must be submitted to the Commission no later than 5:00 p.m.
  • September 1st: Pre-applicants will be notified as to whether they are eligible to submit a full application. Full application period begins
  • November 15th: All applications must be submitted to the Commission no later than 5:00 p.m.
  • January 2005: Recipients will be announced.

There is currently over $300,000 in the fund right now and it is anticipated that another $60,000 may be available through dark fiber lease. There is a matching fund requirement to receive these monies. Smaller communities would benefit greatly. Awards can be up to $50,000. A press release is being developed, if approved by the PSC tomorrow, it will go out as soon as possible. Information on the fund, and application forms will be available on Public Service Commission web site. Mr. Hand entertained questions and comments.

Mr. Belitz arrived at 10:00 a.m. at the Norfolk site.


Steve Schafer, Chief Information Officer, State of Nebraska

In February, it was reported that the backbone was in place connecting several of Nebraska’s larger cities. In March, a retreat was held to discuss how to bring on customers. This has been a volunteer effort causing some constraints, but the group continues to move forward. On April 12th, a news conference was held to highlight the completion of Phase II. Booths were available to demonstrate activities and applications that could be utilized on the network. The Associated Press was present and the article was picked up by several state and national publications. The University of Nebraska continues to work with educational entities to bring on customers for Internet 1 and Internet 2. Network Nebraska continues to collaborate and coordinate with the Telehealth Network Committee with the development of the Telehealth Network.


Roger Keetle, Nebraska Hospital Association

Dave Glover is the consultant hired to work on the telehealth network. Phase II is going forward. Alltel is filing a tariff so that state backbone can be used by governmental and non-profit hospitals. The NITC has been helpful in establishing the standards and protocol for videoconferencing so that all entities meet the same standards. The Federal Universal Service Fund has changed its rules and will now be paying more support per line. The Public Service Commission will provide additional assistance on line charges through the Nebraska Universal Service Fund. It is estimated that the cost for hospitals per line will decrease from $1500/month to $200/month. An RFP to assist with the operational aspect of this effort will soon be released. On June 16-19, Nebraska Distance Learning Association is holding their annual conference. Telehealth will be having a track section with several national known telehealth experts. More information on the conference is available on their web site


E-Commerce Coordination. On April 19th, a meeting (PDF 103k) was held with e-commerce resource entities to discuss resources, challenges and/or gaps, and follow-up ideas. Ms. Dominisse will be working with Ms. Byers. At the meeting, attendees received the “Nebraska E-Commerce Training Programs(PDF 224k) document which was compiled by the Nebraska Rural Initiative, the Nebraska Rural Development Commission and the NITC.

Possible Continuation of IT Planning and Mini Grant Program. Mr. Schafer commented that the program is a very successful effort and he would like to see it continue. The only constraint is that the Community Technology Fund is funded through the Information Technology Infrastructure Fund (ITIF) which gets its funding from cigarette taxes. Cigarette tax revenues have been down. There are also other projects receiving money from this fund, the Nebraska Information System, for example. Projections look like it may be possible to do one more year, but Mr. Schafer will need to check with the Budget Office and the Lieutenant Governor. Council members recommended more publicity and awareness of the success stories of those communities that have done an assessment and received funding due to demonstrating a need. And it was also suggested to have this on the agendas for NACO and the League of Municipalities meetings.

Mr. Sweeney moved to recommend to the NITC continuation of the IT Planning and Mini-Grant program (PDF 89k) provided that funding is available. Ms. Hammack seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Dominisse-Yes, Wernke-Yes, Hand-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Langan-Yes, Keetle-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Dale-Yes, Benson-Yes, Belitz-Yes, and Anderson-Yes. Results: Yes-13, No-0. The motion was carried by unanimous vote.

TANgents. The newsletter continues to gather positive feedback on its content and has been well received.


There was a vacancy and several renewals on the Community Council.

Mr. Hand moved to approve the recommendation of Carol Brandl (PDF 44k)(replacement for Bruce Thiel, Health sector) as a new Community Council member for final approval by the NITC. Mr. Keetle seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Dominisse-Yes, Wernke-Yes, Hand-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Langan-Yes, Keetle-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Dale-Yes, Benson-Yes, Belitz-Yes, and Anderson-Yes. Results: Yes-13, No-0. The motion was carried by unanimous vote.

Mr. Hand moved to approve the recommendation of membership renewals for Len Benson, Donna Hammack, Max Thacker, and Chris Anderson for final approval by the NITC. Roll call vote: Keetle-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Dale-Yes, Benson-Yes, Belitz-Yes, Anderson-Yes, Dominesee-Yes, Wernke-Yes, Hand-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, and Langan-Yes. Results: Yes-13, No-0. The motion was carried by unanimous vote.


Ms. Byers suggested continuing to focus on the current action items, supporting the telehealth network and supporting IT planning and development through Technologies Across Nebraska. Ms. Byers recommended updating Action Item CC1 - Supporting Community IT Development by including the following two bullet points:

  • Pending the availability of funding, work with 8 communities or regional technology committees to develop community or regional IT plans through the 2004-2005 Community IT Planning and Mini Grant program.
  • Work with the Nebraska Rural Initiative and the Nebraska Rural Development Commission on efforts to promote and coordinate e-commerce training across the state.

Mr. Hedquist moved to approve the 2004 Community Council Action Items (PDF 94k). Mr. Dale seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Anderson-Yes, Dominesee-Yes, Belitz-Yes, Wernke-Yes, Benson-Yes, Hand-Yes, Dale-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Langan-Yes, and Keetle-Yes. Results: Yes-13, No-0. The motion was carried by unanimous vote.


Mr. Sweeney provided information on a grant program that AIM received to fund e-commerce activities in Nebraska communities. Communities can apply for up to $40,000 grants. The grant program also has scholarships available for students wanting to go into IT ($1000/semester). AIM also had another grant that provides IT training on e-commerce and technology online for interested communities and/or businesses in Nebraska. Members were directed to for more information on the program. If anyone was interested in learning more, Brad McPeek provided his email address:


The next meeting will be in the fall. With no further business, Mr. Sweeney adjourned the meeting at 11:22 a.m.

Meeting minutes were taken by Lori Lopez Urdiales and reviewed by Anne Byers of the Office of CIO/NITC.

Meeting Minutes