SKOWHEGAN — Micah Weatherford used the Internet to find the story of his ancestor, William Weatherford, an American Indian chief also known as Red Eagle.

Now he wants to help others learn to use computers, too.

Micah, a ninth grader at Skowhegan Area High School, is part of a new school-based program called The Tech Spot, a computer help center opening soon in the former communications room in the Somerset Grist Mill at the old Somerset county jail.

Under the direction of teacher Ron Bonnevie, director of the district’s after school program, middle and high school students are offering their time to teach adults how to get started on a computer, get a Facebook page and search the Web for such things as healthy food options and exercise ideas.

“We can help the older people get email and they can get images and pictures and send them back and forth,” said Micah, of Skowhegan. “They can find old friends and relatives online.”

Renovations to make room for The Tech Spot were paid for with a $2,500 grant from Skowhegan Savings Bank. A $10,000 grant from the Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation is paying for the daily operations of the program.

Micah and fellow students Grace Pollis, of Norridgewock and Hailee Buzzell, of Canaan, both eighth-graders, began work Monday at The Tech Spot on eight donated computers, each one loaded with donated software. The help center also is equipped with a scanner for visitors to create their own computer files of family pictures.

“The public library has a renovation project, and there will be a genealogy section open when that’s finished,” Bonnevie said. “A lot of elderly folks are going to want to come in and do genealogy research, and they don’t know how to use the computers. This will be a place for them to scan their photos. The kids can teach them how to set up an iPhoto file.”

Amber Lambke, who bought the 1897 former county jail building in 2009 with her business partner, Michael Scholz, of Albion, said The Tech Spot is just right for the growing grist mill project.

“I think it fits nicely with some of the other businesses we have here and with our idea that this could be a place to incubate business ideas,” Lambke said. “I’ve been able to see first hand some of the technological difficulties that folks in the community have; folks that don’t know how to use email or attach documents or use spread sheets.”

Plans for the grist mill include grinding and milling equipment, most of which already is in place. There also is a yarn shop next to The Tech Spot, a pottery studio, The Pickup community-supported agriculture program and cafe and the twice-weekly farmers’ market.

Bonnevie said so far the computer group has six students and two volunteer supervisors. They plan to be open to the public three afternoons a week from 3 to 6 p.m. The program is free.

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