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FOREST HILLS

JOURNAL

Your Community Press newspaper serving Anderson Township, California, Mount Washington, Newtown

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2015

75¢

BECAUSE COMMUNITY MATTERS

Director: ICRC remains ‘relevant’ in changing world By Sheila Vilvens svilvens@communitypress.com

As the revenue stream for many communities in Greater Cincinnati shrink, ways to cut costs remain under the microscope. Services such as community access television are being scrutinized like never before, with some communities eliminating or reducing the service. One of the oldest and largest providers of community access television in the Cincinnati area is the Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission (ICRC). With these looming financial challenges and significant changes in the way people communicate via social media, we asked ICRC Executive Director Brad Stapleton a few questions about the history and future of community access television, specifically ICRC. He provided these responses via email. Background on ICRC – when and how did you begin? “The ICRC was started in the early 1980s by a forward-thinking Sharonville council member named Aaron Mackey. This was when cable television was first coming to the area and the idea was that by negotiating as a large group, rather than small individual suburban communities, they could attract a larger, more state-of-the-art cable system. The result of that was the state-of-the-art, 60-channel, two wire, interactive Qube cable system from Warner Amex. After the system was built, some of the communities decided to pool their resources to fund and program the community access channels. The ICRC first began producing programs in 1986. “The ICRC is a prime example of shared resources. Not every one of the communities we

SHEILA VILVENS/THE COMMUNITY PRESS

Brad Stapleton, executive director of ICRC, in the group’s studios in Sharonville.

serve needs a television studio, production truck or playback system but now they all have access to the services that those things provide.” How are you funded? “Each cable subscriber that lives in an ICRC community pays a 5 percent franchise fee. That is 5 percent of their cable television service only, that percentage does not include Internet service or telephone. On a quarterly basis that 5 percent is then given back to the community and the ICRC - 2 percent of that 5 percent. (2 percent of the cable television bill or 40 percent of what the community re-

ceives).” How many communities do you serve today? “Today we are at 23 communities. Which is where we were back in the late 1980s. We have gained some and lost some since then. We have lost four communities in the past four years. All related to budget cuts due to funding changes at the state level, reduction of the local government fund, and elimination of the estate tax. Each one of those communities stressed that they were happy with the service, but simply could not afford it.” What services do you pro-

vide? “City council meetings - recorded and played back on the cable system three different times a week. Meetings are made available online with indexed agenda links allowing viewers to click and go directly to any one of the agenda items. “Community events – Local sporting events, high school matches, baseball, football, basketball, soccer volleyball, lacrosse, men’s and women’s. Peewee Football tournaments, semi-pro football and soccer, Cincinnati Rollergirls. Festivals, concerts, parades. Candidate forums, etc…

“We also playback a great deal of programming that is produced by the schools. “Studio - We produce a biweekly public affairs show where local leaders and elected officials come into our studio and discuss issues and events that are important to their constituents. Some of the local chambers of commerce produce monthly programs where they introduce new members of the local business community and the products and services they provide.” How does community access television fit in today’s communication rich society with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. . .? “Community access television must adapt and stay relevant to its community. When we started there were five access channels on a 60-channel cable box. People were thrilled to see their city council meeting on television a week or so after it occurred. Now if they can’t see that same meeting on their phone the next day they want to know why. And they can because that is part of the service the ICRC provides. “In the fall when our two trucks go out to cover high school football both of those games are played back that same night at midnight. We are doing more and more with ‘live television’ over the Internet. For the sports where permissible, which is pretty much everything but football and tournaments, we make them available live over the Internet so anyone anywhere with an Internet connection can see them as they happen. Same thing with concerts and parades and other community events, we post a See ICRC, Page A2

Minor work continues at Johnson Hills Park By Sheila Vilvens svilvens@communitypress.com

The future of W.M. Johnson Hills Park was a focus of the Anderson Township Park District’s first regular meeting of 2015. Executive Director Ken Kushner provided the “state of the union” address for Johnson Hills Park. His update included the park’s history, planning process, work-to-date, and plans for major projects should funds become available. The full report is available on the park district’s website at www.andersonparks.com. During public comment, res-

MOCK TURTLE SOUP A5 Rita shares soup recipes

ident Dr. Bob Drake again offered his services to conduct a scientifically valid survey that would accurately gauge public opinion on how Johnson Hills Park should be developed. Drake is a retired University of Cincinnati professor who has questioned park officials over the past few months about the Johnson Hills Park planning process and expressed his desire that the park remain natural. Drake is circulating a petition asking that the park remain in its current state. Though complimentary of the park district and its planning and care of the community’s parks, Drake contends that

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the methodology for gauging public opinion regarding the park was flawed. During the initial planning process, the park district conducted a survey and small group meetings to identify how residents would like the park to be developed. Park Commission President Dale Bartholomew said the park commission declines Drake’s offer to design a survey, noting that the staff is addressing other immediate needs and lacked the time to conduct another Johnson Hills Park survey. If another survey becomes necessary, the park See PARK, Page A2

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SHEILA VILVENS/THE COMMUNITY PRESS

W.M. Johnson Hills Park will see continued “minor” work in 2015. Any major projects are on hold until the Anderson Township Park District has the funding.

Vol. 54 No. 43 © 2015 The Community Press ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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