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President’s Report April 2024

Computer “Spring”, Bing Image Creator, Burn-E.


Burney Waring, lazy president, here.   I have had a series of personal distractions consuming February and March, which is my lame explanation for not sending any reports for the past two months. 

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Here is our latest news! 

Chatham Tech Talk

I attended a presentation at 79°West by Mark McNeilly about AI for Business and I made some notes for you.  Have a look.  The notes include a link to his presentation.

AI for Business: Notes from Today’s Presentation – Innovate Chatham

Mark has also just released this update about learning to code in the age of AI.

Was “Learn to Code” Bad Advice given AI? – by Mark McNeilly (

For our next Tech Talk, we are currently planning to switch from presentations and teach a short course on 3D modeling.  Erin Denniston knows how to do this and taught students in Orange County schools.  Right now, we are just beginning to plan the event for April 30th, 5pm.  Stay tuned as we finalize our plans.  We expect people to bring their own laptops with some sharing, and a few ‘loaner’ laptops, with parents allowed to bring their students.

We are starting discussions with the County about having a public presentation and Q&A  based on Chatham County’s recent “State of Chatham Broadband” presentation (see below) to the Chatham Board of Commissioners.  I think this will happen unless we run afoul of some County rules.

Digital Inclusion

Chatham Digital Inclusion Plan

Brenton Hart, Policy and Legislative Analyst with Chatham Co.,  presented the ‘State of Chatham Broadband’  at the Chatham Board of Commissioner’s meeting on March 18th.   Here is the presentation video taken from the public broadcast of the meeting:

The Chatham County Digital Inclusion Plan has had its final review (we think). 

Starting last summer, it was reviewed by all the county offices, CCCC, and Chatham County Schools.  It has finished its ‘equity lens’ review. 

The final edits are being made now.  Thereafter there will be a Partners’ review (we hope to be included).  Then,  it will be translated.

Next, the plan will be presented to the Board of Commisioners.  Then, it will be available for public feedback.  [The county will soon have a new online public review site and this will be one of the first items to use that, later this summer.] 

Finally, it will go to the County Commissioners along with the public feedback for approval before being launched on the County website.  When will all this finish?  Maybe year end?

CAB Grants for Internet

The NC DIT has approved another internet grant for Chatham.  We still have 6500 unserved and underserved locations, which have been identified and vetted by the ISPs.  The County and State together will have another $7mm to spend in Chatham on these locations.  We aren’t sure how many homes would benefit, but the total could be about 2000.  The NC DIT will work with Chatham to get proposals and review bids for installing high-speed internet (>100/25 Mbps) from pre-qualified ISPs.  It looks like the responses to requests for proposals are due by May 6.  Awards by the end of June, and a deadline to build the internet infrastructure of 2 years.

More info:

Beaufort, Caldwell and Chatham Counties to Receive Expanded High-Speed Internet Access |

CAB Program 2024 |

Digital Champion Grant

The State received our grant proposal to install several free WiFi locations in Chatham.  We were one of 230 applications, which was apparently much more than the State expected.  They have delayed the announcement of grantees until the end of May.  We are excited about the possibilities!

Mobile Hotspot Delivered

We have been asked to help secure a hotspot for a second student.  Don Kallgren has done testing at the student’s home and the 4G service may be marginal, but Jesse will order a hotspot and we will test it out.

This is the type of service Innovate Chatham can bring to the community, and we applied to include this type of assistance under our Digital Champion Grant proposal.

STEM Education

STEM Club and Computer Club

Erin Denniston works weekly with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Pittsboro and has taught them dozens of STEM projects over this school year.   We hope to plan something even better for the next school year, perhaps a club at Horton or another school.  It is very important to engage students and get them excited about science and engineering well before high school.

Burney worked weekly with the JMHS students for the first half of the school year to teach them a bit of Python. Interest fell off after January when the students had to shift focus to final exams, graduation, and college selection. 

We are also looking for some fresh opportunities to help the children of Chatham.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

Congressional App Challenge

We helped a student successfully design and create an app, register, and participate in this year’s Congressional App Challenge.   

Perhaps our complaining had an effect, and now the entry period for next year’s contest has been moved up so that kids can pre-register NOW. Official registration starts May 1, and the kids can work on their app over the summer, in plenty of time for the judging in November next year.  In the past, students were out of school for registration and only found out about it after the first few weeks of school, leaving them with a very short window to create an app, register, and enter the contest.

Volunteer Opportunities

We are always interested in having additional volunteers.  In most cases, we prioritize opportunities based on volunteer interest.  So, let me know if you would like to help with any of these things, or you can suggest possibilities for us to help:

  • We would like to hold events to teach or demonstrate skills, whether practical or artistic. Please let me know if you have ideas for what you would like to learn or know someone who might want to teach or demonstrate.
  • Technical topic presentation – we need topic and presenter suggestions for Tech Talk
  • Instructor’s aides for basic computer classes
  • Tech Career Fairs: We always need a list of people who can describe and discuss their tech careers at various high schools.
  • Science Fairs Judges – needed for Fall and spring to judge science and engineering projects while encouraging kids
  • Congressional App Challenge: We would like to help middle and high schoolers build their own simple software app that they can submit for recognition in a contest.  
  • Search engine optimization help, and social media help

Please let me know, and we can chat further about your interests.

You are very welcome to share this newsletter with anyone you like.

If you enjoy being part of the Innovate Chatham community, please consider taking the time to submit an annual membership contribution of $25 for 2024. 

Not a member?  If you like our work at Innovate Chatham, please consider joining us as a paid member, which helps us cover the expenses of running a nonprofit.

Burney Waring
Innovate Chatham President

Innovate Chatham




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