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Council: Purchase of live-streaming equipment OK'd

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston City Council’s Ways & Means Committee elected to use a leftover portion of CARES Act funds for audio video equipment to record future city meetings after a special meeting vote Monday. The equipment, installation and training will come from HB Sound & Light of Grand Forks and, instead of doing a split payment, they’ll pay for everything in full after being informed that CARES dollars need to be dispersed by a deadline sooner than they thought.

    At-Large City Council member Tom Vedbraaten also hinted there could be another business application for CARES Act funds coming through to the city and new City Administrator Amy Finch confirmed there would be enough money to accommodate that application if it comes forward.

    During discussion, Ward 1 council member Jake Fee asked if there would be cross training on the equipment and Finch explained there would be two ways to operate the cameras with one option just simply turning them on for use and another option would be having an employee run the cameras so they could zoom in to whomever is speaking.      

       When asked if remote attendance from a council member could be accommodated, IT Director Phillip Barton said the cameras would record the room but implied there would not be special video for the absent member.

    In regards to broadcasting future city meetings on Channel 3, Barton said the channel is “broadcast quality” and output from high definition cameras would not create a “good enough” video quality. Mayor Dale Stainbrook asked about the channel again later in the conversation and wondered if people that don’t have access to internet “like our older generation” would be able to see the meeting and Barton reiterated that they could still view it but the channel is low definition therefore affecting the quality.

    Ward 3 council member Clayton Briggs inquired if, “down the road,” they could provide a better connection for Channel 3 and Barton said it took East Grand Forks two years to get theirs started and it has become “increasingly difficult” to work with Midcontinent but that, at the same time announcing he would be leaving his position at the end of the month, the next IT employee following him could potentially “tackle that project.”

    Fee added before their final vote that “anything they can do” about providing transparency and increasing communication would be good for the city.