Computer Users group to ‘shut down’

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — After 18 years of classes, problem-solving and fun, the Tri-County Computer Users Group will sign out and shut down for good after a final meeting, Thursday, Nov. 16.

The last session will be from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Amos Community Center of Ohio Living Dorothy Love, 3003 W. Cisco Road. The topic is Basics of Excel.

“Eighteen years is probably enough,” said instructor Mark Hipple, of Sidney, in explaining why the group has elected to retire.

It all started in 1999 when John Kuehne began to help members of the general public with their computer problems. He invited Mark Hipple to join him.

“We were both into computers heavily in our work,” Hipple said, Friday. At the time, he was a quality engineer at Norcold.

“I got my first computer in 1979,” he added. “I bought it for $600. Amazingly enough, you still pay about $600 today for a computer.” He, however, didn’t continue to purchase the machines. He built them for himself.

At one of the Computer Users meetings, Jerry and Doris Tangeman, of Sidney, were asked to assist the instructors. They became group organizers and have been involved ever since.

“Meetings were the first Tuesday and third Thursday of the month. Any individual with an interest in computers was invited to attend the meetings and there was no charge for the instruction,” Jerry said in an email, Thursday.

Each month featured a different topic, many of them suggested by attendees.

“We tried to prompt the membership. ‘What do you want to learn?’” Hipple said. Kuehne retired from the club some six years ago. The early meetings were in the Sidney Nazarene Church but in more recent years they have been at Ohio Living Dorothy Love.

Jerry promoted the meetings and communicated with attendees. He also secured outside instructors to teach classes. Staff from the Shelby County Libraries and the Sidney Police Department, as well as computer repair technicians and cyber-security experts presented programs.

“Over the 18 years of Computer Users, more than 450 (unique) individuals attended meetings, coming from Auglaize, Shelby and Miami counties and other areas,” Jerry said. Doris prepared PowerPoint presentations and baked cookies to serve at the close of the sessions.

Those sessions have included instruction in various types of software, use of smart phones and tablets.

“Help for individuals did not stop on the night of class instruction. John Kuehne, Mark Hipple and I made visits to the homes of class attendees to assist with computer problems, and Mark Hipple repaired computers for individuals at his home. There was no set charge for the home visits, but many individuals gave those helping a donation,” Jerry said.

“A lot of our clientele were senior citizens,” Hipple said. “I will continue to do volunteer work with the computers at the Senior Center.”

Tangeman said he will remain in touch by email with people who need computer help.

“It was a great 18 years of Computer Users,” he added. “A big thanks to the Nazarene Church, Dorothy Love, special instructors and others who assisted with the classes. The project was a very successful one, which helped lots of computer users.”

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.