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.