Spotlight: Hopewell – Growing a Station Takes Time
by Joy Arena, Hopewell Township
Hello fellow JAG members, my name is Joy Arena and I am a mother of three young men: Christopher, Matthew and Daniel, all in their 30’s now. I had to raise them pretty much on my own since I became a widow when they were very young. I just became a grandmother on October 2nd–a baby girl named Shalyi Eva Arena, Irish name picked by her Mother who is Irish. I grew up with five brothers, finally a girl in the family!
I am a member of Bordentown Yacht Club, and also a delegate to the Delaware River Yachtsmen’s League. My boat is a 2001 Sea Ray 260 SunDancer that I moor at Bordentown Yacht Club. Besides boating, I enjoy hiking in the mountains (not a beach person, prefer the mountains and water activities over laying on the beach), kayaking, Geocaching, snorkeling and discovering new sights to see and explore. My next trip is out to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I plan to do some hiking, Geocaching, and ATV riding. I also plan to visit some of the breweries and thermal hot springs that the area has to offer.
I’m telling you all this because I am a much better mother, grandmother, and outdoors woman then I am a station manager. You see, I really work as an administrator for the Public Works department. I volunteered to take over the station several years ago because it paid a few extra dollars which came in handy at the time. I got some very rudimentary training from the employee who left the position. Back then all he did was maintain a primitive community bulletin board.
Today the PEG channel here at The Township of Hopewell is carried on Comcast channel 95 and Verizon channel 30. I only work on the channel part time– about 110 hours a year. For the PEG channel I still produce the Community bulletin board, but now I use PowerPoint and upload PNG files to a TelVue Infoview system. I also record and broadcast live the Township Committee Meetings. In addition to the live telecast, we televise a recording of the meetings on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 5:30PM. On occasion I also record and broadcast Planning/Zoning Board meetings when there is a hot topic of interest to many residents. Once in a blue moon, when there is a topic of interest to a large number of residents, I will go in the field to record a meeting in a room that will accommodate a large crowd. In that case I record the meeting for broadcast at a later date. We can’t yet stream an event from a remote location. I have also recorded the Christmas tree lighting in town for playback on the channel.
Since I am not a trained TV technician, many of the technical matters that are discussed at JAG meetings are over my head. Unfortunately, I do not know much about how the different equipment we own really works. I am just the end user. I am glad that I have JAG members to answer my technical questions when they arise. I just know how to control the cameras and audio during a meeting and produce the bulletin board, and for our township, that’s enough.
We upgraded the system I use to televise the Council meetings back in 2020 with help from JAG’s own Bob Duthaler. We added four Sony PTZ cameras and a small switcher. As you can imagine, this addition really improved the quality of our telecasts.
During COVID, I did not record any meetings. The Town Committee meetings were held via Zoom and the Municipal Clerk would record them and upload a file to our server. I would then grab that file and transfer it to my TelVue HyperCaster via FileZilla. It was important to our town officials that the residents still be able to see their government at work despite the pandemic. With Covid seemingly on the wane, the town is planning to hold their meetings in person again with people still participating via Zoom. Myself and several other township employees have been working on ways to televise these meeting live. So far, we have been able to get a system to work with the help of a Yamaha audio interface. We have not yet had to televise a live Hybrid meeting, that is coming May 2. We will see how that goes. Wish us luck!