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Channel keeps government access open

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Cornelius Pope, who produces the weekly "Spotlight on Cobb" news feature program on Cobb County government access channel TV23, covers a class at the North Cobb Senior Center concerning healthy eating for the holidays.


By Gary A. Witte
CobbLine Staff

Even if someone didn’t know where the government building is located, Cobb County public meetings are not difficult to find.

The Board of Commissioners meetings, Planning Commission meetings, Board of Zoning Appeals and bid openings are broadcast to a television audience every time they’re held. Even those without cable can watch as the sessions are streamed live on the county Web site.

The government access channel TV23 reaches about 200,000 households throughout Cobb County with 24-hour programming, including shows that cover local events, issues and special events.
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David Tyler, chief engineer and “Focal Point” producer, prepares the Cobb County Board of Comissioners meeting room at 100 Cherokee St., Marietta, for a live broadcast. TV23, the government access channel, reaches about 200,000 households. 

And it accomplishes this with a full-time staff of just four people.

“We’re proud of the fact we can cover the entire county with a minimal staff,” TV23 Station Manager Brad Plumley said. “We work to accomplish a lot.”

Cornelius Pope started as an intern with the Cobb County Communications Department in 2000 and became a full-time employee the following year. Originally, he intended to go into computer science, but didn’t like what he saw in the profession.

“It was all about binary codes and not interacting with people,” he said.

Now Pope produces the weekly news feature show “Spotlight on Cobb,” covering various county events and programs. As a result, his work hours shift regularly, with him handling shoots in the evening as well as the weekend.

“I could be in west Cobb one day and be in east Cobb the next day,” he said. “It all depends on what’s going on in the county during a particular day or a particular week.”

Each team member works with no frills, hauling a nine-pound camera and 11-pound tripod by themselves to each shoot. Producing and editing a single show together can mean hours of work.

Story subjects can range from classes to ribboncuttings for new facilities, each giving residents a glimpse of how their taxes are being spent and what programs are available for their benefit.

Pope, during a drive to cover a cooking demonstration at a senior center, said it feels good to provide a service to the community.

“I get to meet people I wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet,” Pope said, noting he highlights information the public wouldn’t typically know about. “That, for me, is gratifying that I can get the word out to people.”

Then there are the public meetings. It takes at least two employees to manage the camera systems, sound system and live broadcasts. Both Board of Commissioners and Planning Commission meetings are rebroadcast numerous times the week they happen.

David Tyler, chief engineer and “Focal Point” producer, said the meeting broadcasts are popular both on cable and the video on demand online feature.

“It saves residents from driving all the way to downtown Marietta … to come to the meetings,” he said. “The citizens can watch it at their leisure in their own homes.”

The TV23 studio is housed in the corner basement of the Cobb County government building on Cherokee Street. Elected officials, department heads and local leaders come here each month to share their opinions and information with the viewing public through the monthly “Focal Point” show.

The station supplements its staff with the occasional assistance of other county employees. Communications Coordinator Tiffany Lewis anchors the “Spotlight on Cobb” broadcasts while Senior Services Program Coordinator Kathy Lathem and others have hosted show segments.

“TV23 is a great instrument in getting the word out about our programs and services,” Lathem said. “They’re very responsive when I request coverage of something.”

She added that many residents learn about available programs for the first time through watching the channel.

The station shares offices with the Public Safety Video Unit, headed by Lt. Chris Stone. The unit works in conjunction with TV23 and produces training videos for county Public Safety officers.

Other programming includes a variety of information, ranging from local documentaries to updates concerning troops overseas. There are live feeds from Cobb County traffic cameras, Army Newswatch and numerous shows about children and teen safety.
Nevertheless, Plumley, who has worked at TV23 since 1997, said its main mission is open government, with every meeting broadacast covered unedited and gavel-to-gavel.

As a courtesy, the channel also replays city council meetings for the cities of Marietta and Smyrna.

“We try to put as much out there as possible,” he said. “We enjoy what we do because it’s not the typical television production environment.”

The channel is only available to those households with cable. Select programming and public meetings are available on the county Web site. For more information about TV23, its daily schedule and online video on demand, go to cobbcounty.org/tv23.

Secret Santas’ needed for holiday season


Cobb Senior Services staff is gearing up for its sixth annual Senior Santa, which will be held Friday, Dec. 9. This special event is an excellent opportunity for homebound seniors in Cobb to enjoy an afternoon of holiday cheer, food, gifts and fellowship with others. Residents can help by making a $30 donation to adopt a senior for the event. For more information, contact LaTronda Perry at 770-528-5368.

Commissioner to meet with public

folks buying booksCommissioner Helen Goreham will host a District One town hall meeting 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, at the North Cobb Senior Center, 4100 Highway 293, Acworth. The public is invited to attend. Town hall meetings help inform residents about projects and progress in the county. For more information, call 770-528-3313 or contact hgoreham@cobbcounty.org.

Commissioners seek those who deserve honors

Staff Reports

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners and the Cobb Community Relations Council invite nominations for the 2012 Creating Community Awards.

The purpose of these awards is to recognize an individual, team or organization that has done something unique in making a positive contribution to the inclusion of any of the diverse communities in Cobb County. Those groups could be identified as race/ethnicity, age/generational, religious, disabled or handicapped, gender, etc.

The purpose of the awards is not only to recognize good works in the county but also to provide a model and inspiration for the rest of the Cobb community.

Each commissioner will receive nominations from his or her district. A committee will be formed to choose each recipient. Nominations should be turned in to the appropriate commissioner by Thursday, Jan. 12.

A dinner will be held Thursday, March 15, at Piedmont Church to celebrate the award recipients and their work.

Nominations should be emailed, if possible, to the appropriate commissioner at the following email addresses or by postal carrier:

District 1- Helen Goreham
hgoreham@cobbcounty.org
District 2- Bob Ott
bob.ott@cobbcounty.org
District 3- Joann Birrell
joann.birrell@cobbcounty.org
District 4- Woody Thompson
woody.thompson@cobbcounty.org
100 Cherokee Street
Marietta, GA 30090

For more information, please go to the Web site of the Cobb Community Relations Council, Cobb Community Relations Council home.

E-911 earns rare national recognition


Cobb 911 was recently awarded its third reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. As a testament to the department's dedication and professionalism, it also was honored with a Department of Excellence Award from CALEA's Board of Commissioners.

"It takes a team to provide public safety to the residents and visitors of Cobb County, and Cobb 911 is an extremely vital part of our public safety team," Sam Heaton, interim Public Safety Director, said. "The reaccreditation status and award is a great example of the work they do every day."

At the award banquet, 104 agencies received accreditation awards, but only three received the Accreditation with Excellence. This award sets the benchmark for public safety professionalism. For more information on the department, visit cobbcounty.org/911.

County roadwork excellence honored


Cobb Department of Transportation was recently honored with a Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality preconstruction award for best traffic safety/intersection design for the Acworth Due West project in Commission District One. The annual competition recognizes exceptional transportation projects that demonstrate creativity and command of technical and organizational skills necessary to develop high quality solutions to Georgia's transportation needs. The Acworth Due West project was honored for its safety and operational design improvements. Acworth Due West Road, originally a wagon trail and historically significant for its role in the Civil War, was built on rolling, hilly terrain. Cobb DOT resolved substandard lane widths, intermittent sidewalks, narrow shoulders and deficient sight distances along a 5.3 mile section, resulting in substantial improvements to the corridor. This $7.7 million 2005 Special Option Sales Tax project was delivered ahead of schedule this summer and innovative approaches resulted in significant cost savings. For more information about this project, visit cobbcounty.org/dot and click on "project updates."

Donations help make holidays special


Cobb Community Transit and Cobb Department of Transportation are sponsoring the 2011 Stuff-A-Bus, benefiting Cobb Christmas, Inc., the county’s oldest and largest holiday assistance program. Your help is needed to “Stuff-A-Bus” with donations of money, new toys and gifts, non-perishable food items and gift certificates. Your generosity will brighten the holidays for thousands of low-income families in Cobb County. Donations will be collected at various venues around the county Dec. 5-16. For more information and collection locations during the week, visit cobbcounty.org/cct.alt

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Residents can make a difference by donating to the Stuff-A-Bus campaign Dec. 15-16.

Park photo contest winners named


The Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs “Fun in the Park” photo contest recently announced its winners. Out of 150 entries, only 14 awards were given. The winners in the general category include first place Kevin Bradley, second and third place Bethany Tidwell. For nature and wildlife, first and second place went to Jered Sigmon and third place to Lily Lewis. In the sports and action category first place was Karen Pominville, second place was Pam York and third place Lamar May. Honorable mentions included Rob Hainer, Kevin Bradley, Ray Marino, Jered Sigmon and Joel Mabry. The photos can be seen at the Web site prca.cobbcountyga.gov/PhotoContestResults2011.

Assistance can help Cobb caregivers


Taking care of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and other related dementia disorders is a tremendous responsibility. These families face financial burdens, as well as daily challenges. With grant funding, Cobb Senior Services provides families with financial assistance through a new voucher program. The program is flexible because caregivers can choose from a variety of services which best meet their individual needs. This includes respite (overnight), adult day care and installation of safety equipment in the home, such as grab bars and home alarms. All purchased services must in some way provide identifiable relief to the caregiver of a loved one with a dementia disorder. For more information, call Margie Castillo-Carbaugh, information and referral specialist, at 770-528-5364.

Airmen history exhibit open at library


The Cobb County Central Library is hosting the exhibit “The Tuskegee Airmen: The Segregated Skies of World War II” through Jan. 2. This exhibit explores the history and heroism of the first African American pilots to fly in combat during WWII. It is available for viewing during regular library hours of 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday.