Farrey: This column brought to you by telecommuting


Before I took the helm at the Herald, I worked from home for seven years for a weekly newspaper in Buffalo, Wyoming.

It was a job that kept up my editorial skills after the La Crosse Tribune dismantled its copy desk, where I had worked the previous eight years.

I was grateful for the opportunity, and it exposed me to a different kind of lifestyle and subject matter.

Telecommuting saved my livelihood, because it can be difficult to find a decent job in journalism close to home – hence, my seven-year itch and why I’m glad to have landed at the Herald.

Telecommuting has become a necessity for many people striving to maintain a good work-life balance. And for those who could advance their careers or increase their pay working for far-flung companies.

Last week, I was exposed to COVID. Thankfully, it was my first time during this entire pandemic.

By the time I found out about the other person’s positive test, everything had shut down for the holiday weekend. I couldn’t find anywhere to get tested, and home tests were out of stock wherever I called. 

So I hunkered down for the frigid weekend, hoping to get tested Monday.

I’ve had zero symptoms, but better safe than sorry, right? I’d feel terrible if I were asymptomatic yet still contagious.

So here I am on Monday, working from home. That flexibility is golden.

I’m able to keep up on my work without falling behind. Thanks to technology, I can access everything on my computer at the office, including emails and our servers, right from my laptop at home.

And I can’t complain about the lack of drive time.

Do you telecommute since the pandemic, or even before?

Chances are, you live in the cities of Sparta or Tomah or close by, where you are already served by fiber optic broadband.

The Monroe County Board of Supervisors has this wild idea that all of its citizens deserve access to broadband capabilities, especially in underserved rural areas. They want to bring fiber optics to the front door of every household and business in the county.

This massive undertaking deserves applause.

This eventually would mean the schoolchildren in Cataract – who had to check out Wi-fi hotspots from the school or in some cases travel to be near the hotspots installed on the exterior of the school building – would be able learn from the comfort of home if school were to go virtual again.

The leaders on the Special Broadband Committee are forward thinkers who have worked diligently to secure millions in grants to get the immense project off and running in the most efficient manner.

It will take a lot of work, and frankly, they need your help.

The committee is seeking letters of support in order to secure even more grant money – from people whose lives have been made more convenient because of broadband access, to especially those who are not currently served but could really use it to, for example, save money by staying home with their children while having the flexibility to work or save gas money on a grueling commute or save sanity by having a quiet, comfortable place to work.

And not only from individual citizens, though those endorsements are vital. The more municipalities that sign on in support, the more matching grant money there may be.

It’ll take serious buy-in from all citizens to make this happen for everyone.

The county has applied for certification through the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin as both a “Broadband Forward!” and “Telecommuter Forward!” community, dedicated to removing barriers to this vital access for work and schooling.

Could you use this in your life? Are you using this in your life? Did your child have trouble accessing classwork when schools went virtual? Then get on board and write a letter of support. If you’d like to write one, send an email to administrative assistant specialist adrian.lockington@co.monroe.wi.us to find out the requirements for an effective letter.

Kariann Farrey is editor of the Monroe County Herald. You can contact her at 608-269-3816 or editor@monroecountyherald.com.


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