Jefferson Co. government getting its own TV channel

November 02, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — A passion of former Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Surkamp is now a reality with the launch of television coverage of Jefferson County Commission meetings, the county's deputy administrator said Wednesday.

Sandy Shuster McDonald said coverage of the commissioners sessions will be shown a week late at first until the system goes live in two to four years.

"We still have to work that out," McDonald said.

The coverage can only be viewed by subscribers of Comcast Cable.

The cable company is providing the commission channel at no cost as part of its 10-year franchise agreement with the county renewed in April 2009.

The programming is available on Channel 17.

In addition to commission meetings, the channel will show public service announcements by the county's elected officials, nonprofit agencies, planning commission, visitor centers, fire departments, parks and recreation board and its five municipalities, McDonald said. Political and religious announcements are prohibited.

So far about 60 promotional ads have been created, many by Administrative Assistant Debbie Estallato and a Job Corps intern, McDonald said.

"The (promotional) ads are on 24-hours a day," she said. "They run in loops."

"This will allow more of the public to see what the commission does," said Commissioners President Patsy Noland. "Many residents don't have Internet access at home, but they do have cable."

Television coverage of the meetings "won't change the demeanor or behavior of the commissioners or the people who attend the meetings," she said.

McDonald said televising commission meetings was a passion of Surkamp when he was a commissioner.

"He wanted it for a long time," she said.

Surkamp lost a re-election bid in 2010.

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