BOULDER JUNCTION - Old age and disease can rob us of our eyesight. Glasses, bifocals, and prescriptions help, but sometimes not enough. A Northwoods library wants you to know about a tool that you can use.
The Boulder Junction Library bought a handicap accessible computer with grant money. It can zoom text and even read things for people who cannot see. Library Director Cherie Sanderson says the computer already gets good use.
"It started out when I was helping her years ago, she would magnify eight times. She's now up to sixteen times magnification and the software goes even higher. So if she needs to, it'll go even higher," says Cherie Sanderson, Library Director.
Some people are reluctant to use it at first. But Sanderson hopes people try it out.
"Some patrons are reticent. They don't want to admit that they could benefit from that kind of a product. Once they see it demonstrated, they realize that its so much easier to read the text," says Sanderson.
The computer screen can also change color schemes for easier reading. It also comes with a special mouse and a large print keyboard for easier use.
RHINELANDER - Technology seems to change almost daily. That's why the City of Rhinelander Public Works Department is growing its use of radio water meter devices.
A little blue box takes in signals from radio water meters on certain homes installed with radio meters. Workers don't even need to get out of their cars to get a reading.
More than 200 homes in Rhinelander use the technology, but there are more then 3200 water customers in the area.
But Rhinelander Public Works Director Tim Kingman says the radio meters make the process much faster.
"An employee can go into a an area where these radio read instruments or meters are used and touch a button and it collects several if not dozens of meter readings at a time," Kingman said.
Tom Roeser reads meters, installs radio meters and does other kind of work for the Rhinelander Water Department. He has to walk through plenty of yards to get to readers.
"Oh yeah I get asked what I'm doing a lot," Roeser said.
For most of the properties in Rhinelander, Roeser uses a touch stick to automatically send readings to a wireless receiver he carries with him.
"You don't have to scroll to find out where you are in your route," Roeser said. "You can just read it and it moves into the hand held and you can continue on."
If the reader doesn't work, Roeser punches in the reading by hand. The department installs the radio meters on homes that are more spaced out, which helps speed up the process.
Rhinelander bills water quarterly, so every three months. A city wide radio meter system would speed up the process so much the city could have monthly billing. The upgrade would help customers find water waste issues sooner because they would see signs of it in their bill more often.
"We try to do that frequently as possibly can," Kingman said. "But with a quarterly system we're not able to do that as quickly as we would desire."
Kingman says right now it wouldn't be worth it to upgrade the entire system. The cost would outweigh the benefits to taxpayers and customers. So they'll take their time and upgrade little by little.
"We're trying to do two or three percent a year,"Kingman said.
That means Roeser will have plenty of walking ahead of him, but that's what he likes.
"The radar reads are fine, especially on the long runs," Roeser said. "But I like doing the walking."
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