The Times-News on local protests against racial injustice:

In late May, the nation was collectively shell-shocked when a video surfaced of George Floyd dying while in police custody as Officer Dave Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck.

Since that incident, several law enforcement leaders have denounced the manner in which the officers in Minneapolis subdued Floyd. Those same sentiments were heard right here in our community as West Point Police Chief Donald Bri, Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon, Lane Police Chief Johnny Wood, Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart and LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar issued similar statements denouncing that type of policing and assuring our communities that is not how they operate.

As if tensions were not already heightened, on June 12, closer to home in Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed while fleeing Atlanta police.

In response to both of these incidents and others, protests have popped up all around the country. The first local protest that we’re aware took place on June 21 when people gathered along Highway 29.

The protest we saw in Lane was tiny compared to other cities across the state and country, but larger in heart and compassion.

People from all walks of life, all races and religions stood side by side — peacefully in the exercise of their First Amendment rights. Cars passed by blowing their horns in support of the group protesting and not once did anyone say or do anything that would jeopardize what organizer Rev. Stanley Roberts was trying to accomplish.

Our only wish was that more of the community would have come out to show support and truly display “Strength Woven In.”

The Cullman Times on efforts to bridge the rural internet gap:

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how disconnected rural America is from modern technology. The internet connections taken mostly for granted in larger cities are unavailable to families in less populated areas. When everyone was sent home to work or continue school because of the coronavirus, it became clear that not everyone is able to work from home or get online to do schoolwork.

But progress is being made.

On June 18, the Cullman Electric Cooperative announced the launch of its new internet service, Sprout Fiber.

The first phase of this new venture is already underway and will have the potential to connect 12,000 cooperative members to true high speed internet. The first phase connects Cullman Electric’s substations, which also provides cost-saving and efficiencies for it’s primary mission of providing electricity to members, but also creates a widespread fiber backbone throughout Cullman County. If the cooperative meets its benchmarks and financial milestones in the first phase, it will then move on to phase two, adding another 500 miles of fiber.

The only downside, in our view, is that it can’t happen fast enough, despite a pretty speedy timeline of 12-18 months. Judging by local reaction to the announcement, rural residents are ready to flip the switch to better internet service tomorrow.

We commend the Cullman Electric Cooperative for branching out into this new venture. It’s clearly needed and we hope the members support it by signing up for services.

We also commend our local, state and federal elected officials for making this happen and for pushing to extend internet services to rural America.

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