Tumwater council discusses 10-year franchise agreement with Comcast

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Last night the Tumwater City Council held their regular meeting. The main topic was a new Cable Franchise Agreement with Comcast Cable Communications Management.

This 10-year agreement would replace the current one that was first adopted in 1996. This Comcast service proposed will maintain the streaming of the existing four channels offered, and change two of them to high definition (HD). These include Channels 3, 22, 26 and 77 which are Local Governments, Public Access (programs made by local individuals and groups), Tumwater TV and Local Affairs and Education (schools), respectively.

Local resident Frank Hensley echoed many citizens' concerns when commenting, “The public would like other options for television, it would have been nice to see the proposal before it was voted on. My understanding is that this agreement is for 10 years, a technological agreement for 10 years seems unreasonable and out of touch to me.”

Deborah Vinsel, CEO of Thurston Community Media, communicated her thoughts to the Council during the public hearing as well: “This is the fourth cable franchise renewal in my experience, three of them being right here in Thurston County. We [Thurston Community Media] are very excited for the addition of two HD channels in the near future and look forward to the renewal of the cable franchise agreement.”

Council member Tom Oliva echoed Hensley’s previous comment when he asked if the Council could consider an open contract with Comcast so that things can be changed as technological advancements occur within the next 10 years.

The Council agreed that more discussion should precede approval of a new franchise agreement. The discussion is planned to continue at the next regular city council meeting, scheduled for Tue., Jan. 19 at 7:00 p.m.

It was also announced that Nicholas Oniskey and Nate Peters were to be appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission. This is a volunteer position in which appointees advise the council on matters of Tumwater history and historic preservation.

Peters, a graduate of Tumwater High School and recent homeowner in the area, thanked the council members and explained his excitement in serving the city of Tumwater on these matters.

Also on the agenda was council consideration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Tumwater and the Teamsters Local 252. The Council spent 20 minutes discussing this in the Executive Session and then moved further consideration of the agreement to a special meeting set for Tue., Jan. 12.

During council member reports, Debbie Sullivan spoke on her work with Intercity Transit during the month of December: introducing a “Respect the Ride” program that promotes safety rules for riders.

Sullivan also announced the programs who received the Intercity Transit VanPools this year including: Catholic Community Services, Safe Place, Thurston County Food Bank, and Behavioral Health.

Tom Oliva reflected on his work with the Thurston Regional Planning Commission and their recent collaboration with the Nisqually tribe on improving I-5 around the northern county line because of flooding risks. The rising sea level and how it will affect the Billy Frank Jr. National Nisqually Wildlife Refuge was also discussed and a plan is currently being put in motion.

Charlie Schneider reflected on his work with the Thurston County Food Bank and the Christmas Meal Handout for seniors. Schneider also announced that the next Senior meal handout will be happening on January 21 at 11:00 a.m.

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Kathleen M Anderson

Will this contract have a provision for community television where citizens can create shows?

Wednesday, January 6