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View town meetings on the Web

James Rada Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(4/19) If you’re one of those people who is busy on Tuesday nights and can’t attend the Thurmont Town Commissioners’ meetings or watch them on cable, you can now watch the meetings on your computer.

The town is experimenting with video streaming meeting. Currently, the town’s web site has two recent town meetings saved in two different formats available for viewing.

“We’ve got some video downloads on the web site just got to get feel and interest for it,” said John Kinnaird who serves as the town’s webmaster.

Kinnaird said the big problem that most people will run into is the size of the files required to save a meeting. Even when the files are drastically compressed, they are still quite large.

“A five-minute file is no problem, but when you get into two, two and a half hour meetings, you’re talking gigabytes,” said Kinnaird.

There is also a question of whether the town should offer downloads of the meetings or video streaming, which would use less space but would require watching the meeting as it happens.

Mayor Martin Burns has suggested that the town might be able to join with Frederick County Government as it pursues video streaming and downloads.

However, Dale Spangenberg, interagency information technologies director for the county, said that while he understands there may be some interest among the county commissioners in including towns with the county project, “We have not specifically included municipalities in our proposals.”

Kinnaird said that the town could potentially do the video streaming without being part of a county program, though the town would probably need some updated equipment that would simplify the process that is currently very time consuming.

“I’m sure at some point there will be a greater interest in this, but question is interest vs. expense,” Kinnaird said.

The county is projected a $30,000 start-up cost for its project with about $16,000 in annual costs. Granicus will stream the broadcasted meetings and store them for a year. It will also store up to 70 hours of non-meeting material for the county.

To view the town meetings, go to www.thurmont.com and click on “Meeting Agendas & Minutes” then “Town Meeting Video.”

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