County's meetings to be taped

This time, Big Brother is keeping an eye on itself.

In Columbia County, commissioners have approved $10,000 to have four video cameras and a video feed device installed inside their Evans government auditorium to record county meetings on discs.

The recordings could later be added to the county's Web site or shown on local access cable TV. "We're investigating what it's going to take to increase our broadband capacity enough to handle it on the Internet," Commission Chairman Ron Cross said.

If the Web site supports the recordings, they likely would be available the day after the meeting, he said.

"We have an opportunity here to do something really first rate," he said.

Visual recording of meetings isn't new to the area.

In Lincoln County, Crawford Asbell, a director of technology and media services, said he tapes commission meetings and has them broadcast via the county's Web site and on two local access cable channels.

In Richmond County, City Clerk Lena Bonner said Augusta Commission meetings are taped for viewing on two cable channels, but they are not shown on the county Web site.

She said the practice was started in 2000.

Aiken County officials say they do not videotape county council proceedings, but they do record the audio.

Mr. Cross said he hopes to have the cameras installed before the March 20 commission meeting.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115. or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

UNDER THE SCOPE

Area governments that videotape meetings include:

- Richmond County: Meetings are aired at noon on Saturdays on Channel 4, at 4 p.m. Saturdays on Channel 128 and at 7 p.m. on Mondays on Channel 128.

- Lincoln County: Meetings are aired on the county Web site and within Lincoln County on channels 11 and 13 at 6:30 p.m. the Tuesday after the meeting, 1 a.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. the following Sunday.

- Columbia County: Meetings could be videotaped starting by the March 20 commission meeting. They could then be aired either through the county's Web site or a local cable access channel.