Mount Shasta considers hiring Redding broadcasting service for hybrid council meetings

Jessica Skropanic
Mount Shasta Herald
The Mount Shasta City Council could have new high-tech interactive streaming of its meetings that allow people at home to interact with council members as easily as those attending in person.

As soon as February, Mount Shasta residents could participate in real-time in City Council meetings and forums without leaving their homes.

On Monday, the Mount Shasta City Council planned to vote whether to spend $42,000 in COVID-19 relief money to hire an audiovisual production company to broadcast on the web and record city meetings in 2022. That meeting was postponed due to illness; it's now scheduled for 11 a.m. next Monday on Zoom.

Mount Shasta Mayor Jeffrey Collings

The goal would be to create ways people can participate in local government from their home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to free up city staff so they wouldn’t put in work hours moderating Zoom broadcasts and chats, Mount Shasta Mayor Jeffrey Collings said.

Money earmarked for the contract would come from a COVID-19 relief fund intended to help communities provide services during the pandemic, City Manager Todd Juhasz said.

"We've been struggling with ways to spend" the money, he said.

That's because there are restrictions on how the city can spend the money to make up for the loss of a municipal service or business.

When people from the community and some city staff said they didn't feel comfortable attending in-person gatherings this seemed a solution, Juhasz said.

City Manager Todd Juhasz

If the council approves signing the one-year contract, 22nd Avenue Entertainment Logistics out of Redding would host online streaming of city meetings on several platforms: YouTube, IBM Cloud, Zoom and Skype.

The company would also create interactive opportunities so the council could answer questions and take suggestions from online viewers as well as from people attending meetings in person. That would allow for more transparency between local government and Mount Shasta residents during the pandemic, Collings said.

The Parks Department lodge where the council usually meets in person doesn't allow the city to install a permanent sound system, Juhasz said. 22nd Avenue would set up and take down the equipment for each meeting.

22nd Avenue staff would provide microphones, cameras, projectors, speakers, LED panels, laptops, document cameras, screencasting hubs and other support equipment, Collings said.

January council meetings are broadcast live on Zoom, with councilmembers working remotely. Recordings are posted on the city's IBM Cloud channel Mount Shasta City Channel 1.

Meeting remotely on Zoom is just a temporary plan while COVID-19 cases are spiking, Collings said. City meetings will likely return to in-person venues in February or March.

Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.