ALPENA - On Feb. 18, Alpena Municipal Council directed the city's staff to post video recorded versions of council meetings onto the popular multimedia site YouTube for people to view at their own convenience. On Monday, Assistant Engineer Steve Shultz updated council on how the videos have been received and asked he be allowed to move forward in creating a profile channel for the city.
Shultz said the response to the meetings online was strong, particularly in the beginning and he believes the number of views the meetings get will make the $6,000 investment a bargain. He said there were 195 views for the Feb. 18 meeting, 77 for the March 4 and 82 for the March 18 meeting. He said he thinks the initial numbers were the result of people wanting to check out the new feature and he believes as more people learn of the offering they will take advantage of it.
"I like where the numbers are, but I was surprised to see the number of the second two meetings go lower than the first one," Shultz said. "I think people will commit to it though and I expect the numbers to go back up."
Shultz said there are several different ways the city can promote the meeting videos and using other multimedia sources like Facebook is one of them. He also suggested working with other entities in Alpena to promote the YouTube channel as well.
"I think we will have it on our website and we'll put out new releases to let people know it is out there," Shultz said. "I think we will be able to use the two different sanctuary Facebook pages maybe, as well as the Plaza Palooza page. We might be able to put links on those pages so people can just click on them and be directed right to the meeting video."
Videos on YouTube have an option that allows people to comment on the content they watched. Shultz said he plans to monitor the comments, at least initially, to be sure no negative or vulgar statements are made.
"I would begin by monitoring them daily, but I'm really hoping I will just have the ability to turn the commenting option off altogether," Shultz said. "We just don't have the resources to watch it that close on a regular bases and Google and YouTube have pretty strict policies on swearing and objectionable content, so I don't think it will be a large issue."
In other business:
* the council voted to renew the contract of Straley, Ilsley & Lamp P.C. from July 1, 2013, until June 30, 2014.
* the council voted to spend $16,334 septage waste transfer pump at the water recycling plant. The purchase will be made via Pesco, a Warren company, that submitted the lowest bid. Engineer Rich Sullenger said $30,000 was budgeted for the project and it should come in well below the budgeted amount.
* Mayor Matt Waligora declared April Social Host Awareness Month. The proclamation is to help make the public aware of the problem of under age drinking. Michigan ranks 16th in the country in the number of youth consuming alcohol.
* the council went into closed session to discuss applications of candidates for a new city manager and for union negotiations.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.