LEWISTON — Local government junkies can now check into what their city councils are doing online — in the Twin Cities, at least.
Great Falls TV, the local access channel for Lewiston, Auburn and Lisbon cable TV subscribers, quietly turned on a website last week and began hosting a live video feed of its regular programming on Time Warner Cable Channel 11.
It includes live coverage of Lewiston and Auburn city council meetings and Auburn School Committee meetings. Those meetings are being archived on the Web site, letting residents go back and watch meetings they’ve missed.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Phil Larlee, director of Great Falls TV. “We had the Web page up last week and we were streaming some meetings, but we wanted to have some time to test it and make sure it works.”
Great Falls began streaming live coverage of Lewiston City Council’s budget workshop last week, then continued Monday in Auburn. Tuesday night’s Lewiston City Council meeting was also scheduled to be shown live.
Larlee said he has to convert the DVD version of the meetings by hand, and that takes about 24 hours. A video-on-demand version of Tuesday’s Lewiston council meeting should be available for viewing Wednesday night.
A few of Great Falls TV’s other programs will be available, but Larlee said he doesn’t plan to put many online.
“It just takes too long to convert programs and we just don’t have the manpower to do it,” he said.
Auburn School Committee meetings that are held in the City Council chambers in Auburn Hall will be streamed live and will be archived, as well. But Larlee said there are no plans to show live coverage of the Lewiston School Committee since those meetings are not videotaped. He said he hopes to discuss archiving the Lisbon Town Council meetings online at some point.
“Those meetings are recorded, but we get them on DVD,” he said. “We’ll make an offer to them, and if they want to have us do it, we can put their meetings online, as well.”
The video streaming system is costing Great Falls TV $3,000. Half of that is paid by the citieLewiston and Auburn.