4/16/2020 —Rockwood -The City of Rockwood will be providing free Wifi in the parking lots of city hall, library, and upper parking lot of the community center. It will be available 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. No password not needed at this time. Please be respectful and obey social distancing!

Mayor and Roane County School Board member, Mike “Brillo” Miller has announced the city has a plan to assist its citizens during this very trying time.  Miller and members of the city council have been thinking about ways to help Rockwood citizens over the past several weeks. With the library hours being cut back and being closed part of the time, the mayor & council felt like they needed to figure out another way to help with internet needs. “We have people who need to file for unemployment, and car owners who need to renew tags and update driver’s licenses.  We have countless students in our area that can’t get homework done or have access to college studies, due to lack of internet in their homes,” says Miller.

The Rockwood Library has been closed to the public for several weeks and has hindered many Rockwood citizens from being able to do just simple things, via the internet. According to library staff, their computers are used almost non-stop during business hours.  Some people use the library’s internet to look for jobs. Others stay connected to their families in other places via Facebook. They pay bills online, do simple shopping, play games, surf electronic newspapers and magazines, check email and basically stay connected to the world outside of Rockwood.  The mayor & council members believe the use of the library internet is not only a way to stay connected, but a way to help with social distancing. “People can order groceries online, pay utility bills, and countless other things,” said the mayor.

As a school board member, Miller says, he feels an extra responsibility to students not only in Rockwood, but all of Roane County. “We decided if there was a way, we could provide a service that would make a difference in the lives of our people, we should do it, which led to his decision to try. That decision has led to technology being added at Rockwood City Hall, the Library and the Community Center by Taylor Telecom Solutions. This technology enables the public to access city provided free Wi-Fi from the parking lots. “This is going to be a trial & error test that we hope works out for everyone. If providing the free WiFi causes unforeseen issues, we may have to implement some additional technology, or future rules and regulations. The Wi-Fi will have security protection that will not affect nor compromise city computer data. Taylor Telecom has been extremely helpful in helping us achieve this goal.” said Miller. The hours of availability will be 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. The public will be asked to respect these hours and will be monitored by the police department.

The city hopes to kick off the free Wi-Fi use on Friday morning, April 17th.  Anyone wishing to connect can visit the city’s website for more information.  In addition, the information will be posted on the doors at city hall, the library and the community center.  A password will not be required, but users must understand the connection is firewall protected.  If any type of problem occurs, a password could be required later.  Roane County Schools and Roane State Community College will both be informed in order to let students know the free access is available.

 “We want citizens to do much needed internet business, students to be able to do homework and for everyone to be able to do things that need to be done during this crucial time. All we ask in return is for users to be respectful. Don’t attempt to reach inappropriate sites and please obey hours of operation,” said Miller. It would be preferable for people to use the WIFi from their cars, but those who walk are welcome as well, as long as social distancing rules of six feet or more are followed.

The mayor concluded by saying, “I want to thank my council members who are always supportive in trying to help our residents and to improve the quality of life in our city. If problems occur on the city side, we will do our best to correct them. If problems occur on the public side, we may have to reconsider. We just ask that the public bear with us as we all learn how it’s going to work out. The council and I just felt the overwhelming need to try to help our people in any way we could.”

The Rockwood Library will resume hours of 10-3 Monday-Friday on Monday, April 20, 2020, but will still be closed to the public. Books and all other materials will be disinfected before and after each use. Copies, fax services and other things can be done by staff by calling ahead. Library staff by calling 354-1281. If you need help with extending Wi-Fi from your business to the public or any other needs you can contact Taylor Telecom Solutions, Brad Taylor at 865-919-2345.