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TMCNet:  Computers go from gambling to teaching in Va. Beach

[November 19, 2012]

Computers go from gambling to teaching in Va. Beach

Nov 19, 2012 (The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- VIRGINIA BEACH -- Once, hundreds of computers were used for illegal online gambling.

Tonight, 80 of them will have new users: Children.

Their tale begins with the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment program, which gives used computers to Virginia Beach families. Students increasingly need them for schoolwork, but not every family can afford one.

It wasn't easy to acquire the 434 computers that were seized by police in a 2010 raid, said Laura Smart, partnership coordinator for Virginia Beach's public schools. They were full of sensitive evidence, she said, and police were prepared to spend $5,000 to destroy them.

Then Smart and her people stepped in.

They had help from electronic security firm Tri-Tronics Ltd. in Virginia Beach. Volunteers set aside outdated computers and wiped clean the hard drives of 235 newer ones.

Students in a computer-repair class at the division's Advanced Technology Center installed new software and anti-virus programs. Tonight, those students will present the first 80 of those computers to selected families, along with flash drives and a brief lesson in computing -- and inter-agency collaboration.

"It really was something, and I think it took some tenacity," Smart said. "Everyone realized there's hours and hours involved here, but in the end, the community wins." Elisabeth Hulette, 757-222-5097, elisabeth.hulette@pilotonline.com ___ (c)2012 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at pilotonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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