Tech Scouts Create Community Computer Lab for Clermont


John Mason/Hudson Valley Newspapers

Clermont Supervisor Bill Banks, seated foreground, logs in with help from instructors Bram Moreinis, left, and Ben Kudria, as Highway Superintendent Jimmie Potts, seated background, navigates on his own, at a recent Clermont town computer workshop.

The Oldest Public School in NY Gets a New

Computer Classroom

By John Mason

Hudson Valley Newspapers

If town officials seem to be unaccounted for around suppertime Thursdays, blame the Tech Scouts.

Clermont Town Board members, employees and other community members are gathering in the Clermont Academy from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Thursday school is in session at the town's computer lab for training in computer literacy, e-mail and related topics.

Providing training are Town Webmaster Brain Moreinis - who is also Taconic Hills' technology curriculum coordinator - and members of the Tech Scouts, Moreinis' students or former students.

The first class, Dec. 16, attracted three officials with varying degrees of computer background - Supervisor Bill Banks, Councilman Ray Tousey and Highway Superintendent Jimmy Potts.

Team teaching with Moreinis was Germantown High School junior Ben Kudria, who recently transferred from Taconic Hills.

Moreinis started with the basics - keyboard, mouse, monitor, scanner, printer, hard drives, motherboards. Floppy discs, he said, are going out of style because of their limited storage capacity. CD-roms are taking their place, but even more up-to-date is the USB hard drive or flash drive that can just be plugged in and have a great deal more space.

Moreinis said he had neverused instant messaging until the day before the class, at Kudria's urging, but despite his resistance, he said it can be pretty handy for communicating in various ways.

"It's an example of how the younger generation pushes the older generation into new paths - my son is on instant messaging," he said.

Moreinis showed them the inside of a computer.

"The computer is pretty simple inside," he said. You can just take a part out and replace it with another one. As a user, troubleshooting is something you start to do - the tinkering mentality is something you get into with computers.”

Kudria told the Register-Star he got his first computer five years ago.

"I started tinkering," he said. He would cause a breakdown by messing with the computer. "I got yelled at by my parents to not tinker, but I always fixed it."

When he got his own computer, it was natural to install Linux, an open source software platform that's free, but requires certain skills to set up. It's constantly being improved by its users, and eliminates problems such as viruses and spyware.

"I could install stuff or change stuff, could set up my home network," he said.

The Clermont lab uses Linux.

"Linux is for gearheads," Moreinis said.

The computer lab will be staffed from 5 to 7 p.m. every Thursday. Instruction will be primarily geared toward using computers to conduct town business and farm management, and will include e-mail accounts, spreadsheets, databases, as well as Internet networking, weather forecasting, price researching, and equipment repair/replacement.

The lab was created using donations from Valstar and Lille Corp.


The Independent, Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Computer lab adds classes in Spanish

CLERMONT-Thursday evening computer classes at the Clermont Academy have been expanded to include Spanish-language instruction. The computer lab is currently open from 5 until 7 p.m., with classes conducted from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m.

Classes are taught by Bram Moreinis, the town's webmaster, and Benjamin Kudria, a member of the Tech Scouts. Tech Scouts are a group of computer-savvy students from Taconic Hills and Germantown schools.

Students at the Academy are receiving training in computer literacy and e-mail, with instruction geared toward using computers to conduct town business and farm management.

Several town officials have participated, according to Mr. Moreinis.. Ann Poleschner, the town historian, has learned how to digitize photographs for a web album; Supervisor Bill Banks, how to use e-mail and search the web. Town Councilman Ray Tousey has computerized some aspects of his farming operation, and he is using the Internet for town business.

One Spanish-speaking student, Arely Fernandez, is learning English as she learns computer use, Mr. Moreinis said, while another, Anna Ruiz, is using the opportunity to maintain contact with her family in Costa Rica and to browse the Internet.

The class schedule may be revised for summer hours as of July 1. For more information contact Mr. Moreinis at 537-3448 or e-mail bram at

-Richard Roth

Valstar Connections, February 2005

Valstar Responds to the Needs of Southern Columbia County

Valstar donated DSL services and routers to The Clermont Lab located in the Clermont Academy building. Clermont Academy was the first public school in New York State and now has become the first public community computing lab based on the LINUX operating system. Bram Moreinis, Taconic Hills Central School District technology curriculum coordinator and Clermont webmaster, will supervise the installation of the lab with students from Germantown High School.

The lab is geared toward assisting the local community in planning and business needs as well as assisting residents in farm management. In addition, training in database development for tracking, maintenance schedules, spreadsheets for accounting and planning, Internet networking, weather forecasting, price researching, and equipment repair/ replacement will be taught.

Valstar responded to the request from The Clermont Lab for a high speed DSL Internet connection to better meet the needs of the residents living in Southern

Columbia County with their educational needs. "Knowledge of computer usage today is essential if you are to conduct town governmental business, run a local business or operate a farm. We salute this initiative and are glad to be a part of this endeavor" commented Bruce Bohnsack, president and general manager of GTC/Valstar.

The students from Taconic Hills and Germantown High Schools will staff The Clermont Lab, which will be open from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. every Thursday (except public school vacations), with classes running from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The lab will also be available to students during Town Clerk hours.