The Village of Goldonna was abuzz Feb. 28, as the community gathered to celebrate the fact that Goldonna Elementary and Jr. High will soon have access to high speed internet. Opening the ceremony was the Presentation of Colors by the Lakeview High School, JROTC followed by a Prayer led by School Board President Steven Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies was School Board Member Eugene Garner. He introduced the other School Board members that were in attendance: Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Beverly Broadway, Tan’keia Palmer, Rhonda Guidroz, Billy Benefield and Russ Danzy.
Garner then introduced the Natchitoches Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Grant Eloi, who spoke with an emphatic tone as he stated, “Goldonna isn’t going anywhere.” He went on to say that the internet installation is a firm commitment and investment from the school district to the students and community of Goldonna and it was another step in bringing equity in education to all students in our parish.
“Goldonna is not forgotten by anyone,” Eloi said. “The first investment made was sending an amazing Principal who loves this school, Mrs. Manual. This school is the community and we recognize that,” shared Eloi.
Dr. Eloi also introduced his team that was in attendance as well. He acknowledged Mike Cozad, District Technology Coordinator who was one of the pioneering forces behind this effort along with Supervisor of Business Affairs Lee Waskom. Chynna Paris, NPSB Communications Manager was also in attendance.
“We are totally looking forward to being able to have students logon and not worry if they have a connection or not. The students will be so excited,” said Principal Manual.
Representative Gabe Firment and State Senator Louie Bernard were on hand to congratulate the community and share their excitement for the internet access that will now be available due to all parties working together seamlessly to make this happen for the students of Goldonna.
The timeline for the laying of the fiber optic trunkline is around July 1, 2021 and internet should be available to the school by the end of September. Waskom stated, “It is like we are installing the Mississippi River and only need a canoe’s amount of bandwidth. There is a ton of capacity left.”
Waskom went on to say that the lines are fiber optic and not copper which provides more reliability for the users. He also shared that the contract that was awarded was $750,000. Ninety percent of that was sitting in reserves in Baton Rouge and identified for Natchitoches Parish. The School Board was responsible for the other 10 percent. The money officially can be used for broad-band expansion.
The School District also stated that there are other places in the Parish that they would like to bring the same service to in the very near future. Provencal, Marthaville, Robeline and Cloutierville are on the radar to receive these services. Even though the school in Cloutierville is closed there are still students who reside in the area who need connectivity.
Representatives from the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, A+ Coalition, Cane River Heritage Association, Northwestern State University, Parish President John Richmond, Parish Councilman Marty Cheatwood, Goldonna Mayor Jennifer Smith, and the Goldonna Town Council were all present along with many other Goldonna residents.