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21st Century Transparency

MOORESVILLE — The Mooresville Town Council will soon be able to live-stream video its meetings thanks to recently purchased and installed equipment.

According to Mooresville Town Council President Tom Warthen, the idea to purchase and install the equipment was the brainchild of councilman Joe Beikman.

“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s take a look at this,’” said Warthen.

Beikman said that he got the idea after Mooresvillians Danny Lundy and Shane Williams began live streaming local government meetings on Facebook, which allows people to either watch the meeting live or at their convenience later. According to Beikman, once he noticed that people tuned into the live stream, he thought it would be a good way to keep residents in the know.

“I just looked at what Shane and Danny had been doing,” said Beikman. “I know a lot of people look at it and I thought it was something we ought be doing to keep people informed.”

Lundy and Williams both said that they began live streaming meeting in order to help inform the public and combat misinformation.

“It was a response to the rumor that was widespread and pervasive that the Gateway Project was funded by grants,” said Williams. “I thought the misinformation out there around town was indicative of a very bad communication problem.”

“There was a great deal of confusion and/or misinformation floating around,” said Lundy. “My goal was to just clear that up. That was originally why I started doing that. I just wanted to get the information and make it available to people.”

Williams said that since he began streaming the meetings, people who would not normally be able to attend have been able to stay informed.

“By live posting, I’ve discovered many people who are unable to attend meetings in person, are interested and watch electronically,” said Williams. “I’ve seen several hundreds of views on my pages alone. The most I’ve had is around 2,500 views.”

Lundy said that he had seen similar results on his live stream of meetings and said that it was the people viewing at home who made the streaming effective.

“The people viewing at home made the difference,” said Lundy. “People now have a much better idea what’s going. Therefore, the council is getting real, constructive, informed feedback. It’s been a net positive for everyone.”

Williams agreed and said that he had noticed a positive change from town officials since meetings had begun being videotaped.

“I have noticed a change in the positive direction,” said Williams. “I think there’s always more we can do, but I am very proud that town officials now have name plates identifying them at public meetings.”

Lundy said that one the most important lessons from this, for him, was that anybody can make a difference in their town.

“You can make a difference,” said Lundy. “You don’t have to run for office or stage a massive protest. If you see something you’re able to fix, you can go fix that, and that will make a difference.”

Both he and Williams said that they have had people thank them for their efforts to keep the public informed. Lundy said that was happy to help folks stay informed because he felt that a busy schedule shouldn’t preclude someone from being involved in their local government.

Warthen shared a similar sentiment, noting that it was hard for people to find the time to attend meetings in person while also living busy lives.

“It’d be ideal if anyone who chose to come to the meeting could come and take the time in their busy lives to come and see us, but in this day and age, … people just don’t have the time,” said Warthen.

Warthen said that as technology continued to move forward, the town needed to do the same.

“People get up in the morning and the first thing they do is grab their electronic device to see what’s happening in the world,” Warthen said. Warthen said that the town is still going to work with the local newspaper and reach out to WCBK radio, but now people will have another convenient opportunity to get informed.

“It’s a change,” said Warthen. “I think it’s a great thing.”

Beikman was equally optimistic and said that the live streaming system should be set up and ready for use soon.

“I think it’s going to work fine,” said Beikman. “Hopefully, it’ll be ready for the next meeting.” Beikman explained that the videos would be streamed to YouTube, but would also be available for viewing on the town’s new website, which launched earlier this week.

“Video will be streamed to YouTube, but we can also link YouTube to our website, so you can pick up the feed off of our website also,” said Beikman.

According to Warthen and Beikman, this will allow people to watch live or at their convenience.

“Just trying to give a little more transparency,” said Beikman.

Warthen said that the redesign of the website reflected that, providing a way for citizen to contact their local government officials, as well as hosting the live-streamed meetings.

“They wanted to make this user-friendly,” said Warthen. “One of the greatest things I like about the website is it gives people an instant contact to get ahold of someone.”

The town’s new website is live at Live streaming is expected to begin at the next meeting of the town council.

By Anthony Woodside | Reporter | Published August 4th, 2018 in The Reporter-Times

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