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December 27, 2013

Newsmakers: NMC to discuss taped meetings

EDITOR’S NOTE: Newsmakers 2013 profiles people, places and events that made news in the Grand Traverse region during the past year.

TRAVERSE CITY — Elected officials at Northwestern Michigan College will consider next month whether to electronically record their board meetings, a standard practice among major government bodies in Grand Traverse County.

A policy committee last discussed the question in October with members offering mostly positive comments, but expressing concerns about cost. The committee also will consider what other community and four-year colleges are doing before delivering a recommendation to the board, said board Chairman Doug Bishop.

Committee members also discussed the intended purpose. Bishop said board meetings are “very accessible” and there is value in having people show up at meetings to speak.

“If I thought there was a need, I’d be happy to do it. We don’t have anything to hide and that’s pretty obvious. But I question whether people are really interested,” said Susan Sheldon, NMC board secretary.

But NMC Board Trustee Bill Myers, who doesn’t sit on the policy committee, said he supports the idea, particularly in light of recent efforts to put NMC more squarely in the public eye. The endeavor to raise awareness followed NMC’s resounding millage request defeat in August.

“From my perspective, it’s a logical next step,” Myers said. “We should be doing it. It supports our other activities of letting the public know about all the good things we’re doing at NMC, the issues we face and how we make decisions.”

Cost shouldn’t be a significant issue, said Joe VanderMeulen, who oversees UpNorth Media Center, which cablecasts government agency meetings on its public access channels. That’s because NMC has its own cable access channel, video equipment, and a visual communications program that could potentially provide training, he said.

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