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$250,000 effort could upgrade meeting chambers for Modesto council, supervisors

Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll addresses the City Council in April in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place. City and county officials are discussing upgrades to the chambers.
Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll addresses the City Council in April in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place. City and county officials are discussing upgrades to the chambers. jlee@modbee.com

Modesto and Stanislaus County officials believe it’s time to upgrade the chambers at Tenth Street Place used for City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings.

Elected officials variously complain that they can’t hear speakers at the podium or they can’t read the screens in front of them on the dais.

In another issue, the older equipment for broadcasting the government meetings on television has caused interruptions. Not long ago, the video failed for an entire City Council meeting.

Larger, more modern visual displays could provide better viewing for people who attend meetings or watch at home.

Officials also are talking about changing the layout of the chambers, so speakers no longer have their backs to the audience and the chambers can accommodate different types of meetings.

At a city-county liaison meeting Monday, City Manager Jim Holgersson wondered if meeting space at Tenth Street Place could be provided for public workshops.

Tenth Street Place, the building that put city and county government under one roof, opened to the public in November 1999. While its meeting facilities are not as old as some, the broadcast and projection equipment has fallen behind the times.

The audio-visual and projection system is operated from a room at the back of the chambers, which is connected to a master control room at the county Office of Education for sending the broadcast signal to Comcast and Charter.

The joint powers committee over Tenth Street Place has authorized $250,000 for making upgrades to the meeting chambers and equipment.

County Supervisor Terry Withrow hopes to see improvements to the system used for PowerPoint presentations. He said board members can’t read their screens at the dais and have to turn their heads to watch the big screen behind them.

“I think the chambers are fine as they are,” Withrow said. “They just need to replace those screens.”

Councilman Bill Zoslocki said the acoustics in the council chambers are not good. He said he can’t understand soft-spoken speakers at the podium.

Patty Hill Thomas, the county’s chief operations officer, said a consultant is working with staff members on plans for upgrading the chambers. The county and city will most likely schedule the installations for next year.

Another consideration is to provide more spacious conference rooms for holding meetings and workshops at Tenth Street Place, Hill Thomas said.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321

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