Middletown Online: The town webmaster shares his digital vision of the future

Article/Interview, Times-Star, Middletown, CA, October 3, 1996

by Elaine Marshall


In the near future busy workers will leave their suits in the closet and commute not 45 minutes to Santa Rosa or two hours to San Francisco, but just down the road to Middletown. That's the way Peter Conrad Cumminsky , a local computer consultant, sees it if new plans to open the Middletown Regional Telecommunications Center are Successful.

"People commute into the cities because they like to live here," Cumminsky said. "But more and more people can work at home. That's where society's heading."

Cumminsky said the telecommunications center would be an office building that rents space to telecommuters--workers employed by large firms in the Bay Area who can work at home, thanks to high- speed, digital phone lines. The center would provide workers with office space, computers, Internet access, video teleconferencing, faxes, phones, copy machines and printing services. Fifteen percent of California employees work at home since the 1989 earthquake, Cumminsky said, with that number projected to rise to 30 percent by the turn of the century. He said Middletown needs to jump into the action now.

"We need a stable economic base here," he said. "We can't depend on tourism because it fluctuates."

Cumminsky said the center would also be available to the growing numbers of entrepreneurs who work at home, such as newsletter publishers, desktop publishers, writers, computer consultants and information brokers. The center could also be a place where college students receive instruction over the Internet from a university or college in another town.

The project is still in the planning stages and costs have not been estimated, Cumminsky said, although Pacific Bell has given grants to other communities that are setting up similar centers. He said Supervisor Helen Whitney and Ed Robey, who's running for supervisor, have expressed interest in the idea.

"It would be good for the county and great for Middletown," Cumminsky said.

Cumminsky, who lives in Middletown, also promotes the area through a web page he created pro bono upon the request of Dan Bloomquist , creator of Clearlake's home page .

The web page gives an online tour of Middletown. Recreation destinations such as Boggs Mountain State Demonstration Forest, Twin Pine Casino, Hidden Valley Lake Golf and Country Club, Big Canyon Inn, the Crazy Creek Gliders and a link to Harbin Hot Springs' home page are featured, as well as Guenoc Winery and Horne Winery and Vineyards. Restaurants noted include the Boar's Breath and the Greenview Room. The site also includes a map of the town with areas of interest marked, and links to other Lake County web pages.

"I'm trying to increase tourism through the web page," Cumminsky said. "It's a good way to promote Middletown and attract businesses, too."

Cumminsky, who has been living in the area since 1981, is also credited with helping to form the Lake County Computer Users Group in 1987. The group still meets regularly and is a forum for computer users to share knowledge.

He is also known to venture from behind the computer screen to sail on Clear Lake , garden or hike. He has hiked most every major trail in the United States, including the Pacific Crest Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada, and the Appalachian Trail.

Cumminsky is asking the Middletown Merchant's Association and other local businesses to submit information to be included on the site. He would also like to hear from local residents on ways of improving or adding to the site. To visit the Middletown web page, go to http://www.lakeweb.net/middletown/ . Cumminsky can be reached by calling 987-9484.

(C) Copyright Middletown Times-Star, 1996