Television experience’ coming to St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2001


PHOTO: Steve Sirmon, public information officer for St. Charles Parish, tests video equipment in preparation for the launch of a new cable television program highlighting the positive aspects of the parish. (Staff Photo by Leonard Gray) LULING – Get ready to tune your cable television to Channel 6 in St. Charles Parish, as “Experience St. Charles Parish” is preparing for its first broadcast. A brainchild of public information officer Steve Sirmon, the TV show will “highlight the good things in St. Charles Parish.” For several months, Sirmon has been quietly gathering his equipment and supervising construction of the set at a location on U.S. Highway 90. The half-hour show will likely premier in mid-August, with times and dates to be announced. Loyola University communications student Tommy Faucheux Jr. will direct the show. Working with a budget of $75,000, Sirmon said he has brought it in for $12,000, with the purchase of good but inexpensive equipment and donations from parish businesses. Among the items purchased are computer software, monitors, cameras and microphones. Instead of $3,000 video cameras, he bought $600 cameras, mounting them on tiny tripods. Meanwhile, donations of carpeting, furniture and lighting helped trim the expenses. Manpower for operating the equipment will come, at first, from Destrehan High School students who have already been working with video equipment at their own studio. Sirmon said of the planned format for the new cable program, “It’s not a political show at all.” Instead, features such as Special Olympics, Senior Olympics, parish recreation, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and other such activities will be highlighted, with guest speakers appearing on the show. In addition, parish directors will be able to inform the public easier and faster on issues of general interest. “Anything to do with parish agencies and the people in them,” is how Sirmon described the planned programming. For example, Public Works may be able to provide weekly updates on road overlays, Economic Development could discuss the upcoming strategic plan for the parish economy and Emergency Operations could get vital information quickly to the public with face-to-face programs, rather than reading words scrolling across the screen. Inspiration for the project came from St. Charles School Board members, who had been working to develop cable programming to keep citizens informed, under the guidance of public information officer Rochelle Touchard. Sirmon had a local cable program in the early 1990s and said he is excited about using the newer digital technology to present information to the public. “The biggest thing will be getting information out to the public,” Sirmon said. Already, he is making plans to provide copies of programs on either CDs or DVDs, and is already in progress to similarly preserve past parish council meetings, currently stored on videotapes.