In response to John Kiser’s ‘Boo Hoo’ letter: Let’s brainstorm, John

Editor’s note: John Kiser’s letter that follows first appeared in the online version of the Rappahannock News. It is being published now in the print edition to allow for the follow-up letter from Karissa Epley, which also appears below.

Boo Hoo . . .

It is true Rappahannock County could use better cell services and more young people and more employment opportunities.

It is also true that people like Karissa Epley [Letter to Editor, March 2] who make a life-changing decision to move to Rappahannock County should first do a little homework. It’s not for everyone — fortunately.

John Kiser

Let’s brainstorm, John

I am extremely disappointed in [John Kiser’s] reaction to my response. You do not know me, so do not claim to know my character, as you so insinuated.

So to tell you a bit about myself, I am a MBA student at William and Mary, and I am completing the program online. This is one reason why I’m particularly passionate about internet access. I have access to a Public Ivy school, thanks to the internet. But as you would know, William and Mary has very high standards and requires many hours of studying and peer-to-peer collaboration. In the several weeks of my studies I have spent my Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.on my landline (which is also spotty) studying with my fellow students. A regular bricks and mortar school doesn’t operate at these hours.

I run out of internet every month trying to improve myself. I had to increase my data package to a “professional” data package which comes at a “professional” cost. The data package is so slow that even at this “professional” level I cannot connect with my classmates live online. That means no Skype calls, no cell phone use, and minimal video streaming. I have worked exceptionally hard to have the ability to afford this “professional” level internet, but not everyone else is fortunate to say the same. Hard work is an opportunity that not everyone is granted.

I moved to this county because I saw a chance to make things better for people in a place that was almost perfect — an opportunity for me to work even harder to make a positive impact. Is that not what we want young people to do?

Yes, I said it was a financially reckless decision for a person my age and at my income level to move to Rappahannock. I won’t be able to afford to take a vacation or start to build up some savings for several years, because I’m house poor. However, I am admittedly foolishly in love with Rappahannock. And now I am doing all I can muster to make this a better place for my hypothetical children to live in. As a board member of RLEP, RAWL, and a committee member of Rappahannock Farm Tour, I would like to think that I am making that positive impact.

My response to the original article was simply to ask a question and encourage others to ask questions as well. Technology access does not have to come in the form of tall tower installations that destroy our landscapes. Why can’t we petition for the electrical company to share their existing lines with Verizon for Fios access? Or, why can’t we ask the satellite internet companies to provide better service to their existing customer base in Rappahannock? How would we even do these things? These are questions I honestly don’t know the answer to, but I plan on “doing my homework” and I want to help identify what works best for our rural community.

You say “people like Karissa Epley” like it’s a bad thing. I’m actually doing good things, albeit little things, for our county. I hope more people will be like me. More importantly, I hope young people will speak up about what they want for this county. I have heard a small sampling of these young voices, and I have heard that they want to leave. Who then will inherit our county?

Instead of fighting each other, let’s work together. If the idea of massive towers and residential developments scares you (it also scares me), then let’s find a different way to move forward. Rappahannock is changing, so let’s shepherd change in the direction we want it to go.

P.S. I’m available for lunch or coffee on most Wednesdays, Mr. Kiser. As someone who also has had a positive impact on our community, I’d enjoy brainstorming with you.

Karissa Epley

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