Group hopes aerial photograph will grab Google's attention

Merced's efforts to become a test site in Google's fiber Internet rollout are taking to the skies this weekend.

Organizers are gathering volunteers to spell out the company's name Saturday for an aerial photograph, according to Adam Cox of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce.

Google announced in February that it would build and test ultra-high-speed broadband networks in trial communities around the U.S. The company encouraged local government agencies and private citizens to apply. The city of Merced is partnering with Merced County, UC Merced, Merced College and local school districts in a joint application. The application period ends March 26.

Cox estimates that 320 people will be needed for Saturday's event. Each person will hold up a colored piece of paper to spell the word "Google" in a gesture to show the company that there's local support for its ultra-high-speed Internet access.

The group plans to use the Merced College football field, Cox said. Volunteers should arrive by 10 a.m. and wear a white shirt. For information, call the chamber office at (209) 384-7093.

A public meeting about Merced's lobbying efforts is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at 2507 Heritage Drive at Castle Commerce Center. The meeting may also be attended by telephone by calling (800) 261-3225. The access code is 3857000#.

Nominations may be made online at http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi.

-- Brandon Bowers