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Meetings to be cast on cable in late fall

Treasure Island officials have contacted Time Warner Communications to get the $17,000 venture off the ground. The city hopes cablecasting will lead to more informed voting by residents.

By KATHY SAUNDERS

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 2, 2000


TREASURE ISLAND -- Residents should be able to watch city meetings on cable television beginning in November.

Commissioners on Wednesday directed City Manager Chuck Coward to contact Time Warner Communications and order the parts for the new system.

"It's a win, win for everybody," said Jim Dobyns of the Treasure Island Voters Watch group, which has spearheaded the cablecasting campaign. "We think residents will get an appreciation for how the city actually operates and what the process is, and we are hoping that this leads to a much more informed voter when it comes time for future elections."

The system, which includes two mounted cameras, is expected to cost about $8,500. The city also needs a new audio system, Coward said.

With the current system, he said, "we likely will have a great picture with very poor sound quality."

A new sound system with 10 microphones is estimated to cost $7,500.

Coward included the money for cablecasting in his proposed budget for next year. Commissioners plan to discuss those details at a budget workshop July 25 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, 120 108th Ave.

On Wednesday, commissioners said they wanted to install an extra outlet in the auditorium in case they decide to buy a third, mobile camera for the broadcasts. A third, hand-held camera is expected to cost about $1,000.

The meetings will be broadcast on Time Warner's Channel 15, within the city limits of Treasure Island.

Dobyns said volunteers from his group will operate the system from the City Clerk's office and produce the broadcasts.

The cameras will be mounted on the wall behind the commissioners and on the platform behind the audience. A third camera could be placed on a tripod to capture exhibits or speakers at public hearings.

Dobyns said the city needs about 2,500 feet of fiber-optic cable that will take about three months to install. The aerial cable will be connected to telephone polls and extend from City Hall to 107th Avenue near the St. James Condominiums.

As part of the package, Time Warner is planning to donate a $700 character generator so the city can broadcast scrolling messages between meeting broadcasts. Time Warner also is donating the labor and materials, estimated at $4,000, Dobyns said.

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