Bethlehem meetings head online

Starting Feb. 22, Town, Planning Zoning boards to be streamed and archived

— Bethlehem residents will be able to view town meetings live online starting Wednesday, Feb. 22 via the town’s new webcasting system.

Through the work of the Jeff Dammeyer, the town’s director of management information services, and Town Clerk Nancy Moquin, all three types of board meetings held within Town Hall’s main conference room (Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals) can be streamed live. In addition, all videos will be archived online and cross referenced with the meeting’s informational attachments.

“The new system is wonderful,” said Supervisor John Clarkson, who called it a “great labor-saving system.”

According to Moquin, the videos will now be used to supplement the town’s records, saving her a considerable amount of time. Now she’ll only have to write a short summary of the discussion of agenda items before they are voted on, with a count of yes and no votes by board members.

“There will still be paper copies available of the votes, but for the full discussion on record people will need to go to the videos,” she said, adding those without Internet access can go to the library to see the videos.

Town Board meetings have been recorded with the new system since mid-January and are now available for viewing online. The video is indexed by agenda item so viewers can jump right to the topic of interest.

According to Dammeyer, the town has been working on the system for about five months. The new system includes three remote cameras and a live feed interface that allows all digital presentations given to each board to be uploaded directly online.

The entire system cost about $16,000 and was purchased by Verizon through a franchise agreement as part of the Public, Educational, and Government Access Program (PEG) described in state law. The franchise agreement was reached as part of Verizon’s rollout of FiOS service in Bethlehem.

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