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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Local singles now turning to Internet

Sunday, February 13, 2005

(Photo)
Kevin Rodgers of Oran poses in front of his computer.
ORAN -- Forget Cupid. Many lovesick hopefuls this Valentine's Day will be logging onto the Internet in an effort to find their one true love at one of thousands available online dating sites.

Fortunately for those living within a 250-300 mile radius of Sikeston, they may be able to meet someone online and within hours be having a night cap at a local coffee shop, thanks to SemoSingles.com.

Last October Kevin Rodgers of Oran launched SemoSingles.com in an effort to connect local people with each other.

"I've always been interested in web development," said Rodgers, 35. "My wife, Angie, and I met seven years ago online and now we have a 4-year-old daughter."

Currently SemoSingles.com has 237 active members, although there have been more. Members are from Benton, Sikeston, East Prairie, Poplar Bluff, Cape Girardeau and Campbell as well as Southern Illinois and Kentucky.

Rodgers, who admitted he's had no schooling in computers and basically was self-taught, said it took him about a year to develop the Web site. Since Nov. 18 the site has received 23,700 hits.

Kevin Wilson of Sikeston was one of the first users to SemoSingles.com.

"You can save a lot by going online and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to interact with people, and if you go to the bar, you easily spend $40 bucks and you're sitting there and not get anything long-term out of it," Wilson said.

Although Wilson, 29, isn't currently dating anyone he met through Semo Singles.com, he has had interaction with people and met several different people just from chatting with them online, he said.

Many people like the Web site because of the local aspect, Wilson pointed out.

"Everyone's there for the same reason," Wilson said. "And it's not like getting on a chat room and you have to talk with someone for a few minutes to know something about them.

"With this, you already know a lot about the person before you even talk to them. You know you're there because you want to meet people and so is everyone else."

Registration is simple, Rodgers said. It begins with an e-mail address verification, then proceeds with questions about the person registering and what type of person they're looking for. The process can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes, depending on each individual, he said.

"It's extremely easy to navigate and not hard to figure out where you are and the applications aren't hard to find. It's pretty cut and dry and simple," Wilson said about the site.

Visitors to the site can -- for free -- register, make a video interview, post up to 20 pictures, view other people's posts. They can even see how many people are on the site at that time.

"They can do anything except make contact with someone posted," Rodgers said.

To make contact, users must choose between different subscriptions -- one-

month, three-month, six-month or a year -- starting at $15.95. And on Valentine's Day, Rodgers said he will double the subscription for new users at no extra charge.

Typically between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. are peak hours for the site's users, Rodgers said.

"That's when everyone's up for work and drinking their coffee, and checking to see if anyone's contacted them," Rodgers said.

From about 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and then after 10 p.m. to when bars close and everyone's home again are other peak times of use.

Rodgers said his Web site is for people ages 18 and up and of all lifestyles and beliefs; however it's the 40- and 50-year-old age group that uses the site most often, Rodgers said.

There aren't really any rules except no pornography and no vulgar language, Rodgers said.

Rodgers doesn't deny people will stretch the truth a little when describing themselves, but he assured the site is safe. He also offers online safety tips for users.

And for security purposes, a help/comments center is also posted on the site. "I know if there's a problem and it's brought to the attention of the Web administrator, he will take care of it," Wilson said. "If there's undesired contacts, then it's pretty secure in that aspect and if you feel uncomfortable you can get rid of people on your own by blocking their address."

And if the communication, gets to the point of wanting to meet face to face, Rodgers offers a service called First ID Check, which will run a background check on the person you're dating for a small fee.

Rodgers, who spends at least 40 hours a week monitoring the site, is currently developing community links for date ideas. He said he designed the site to be user-friendly, even for the computer illiterate because it's all about connecting people.

Wilson agreed, saying site users have nothing to lose.

"They can't see you so type away," Wilson said. "And it's not like they know your phone number. You can be the biggest dork and walk away a champion."

For more information, visit www.semosingles.com.