Can’t hear? Council, court fix coming soon

A $171,000 upgrade is being weighed for cameras and sound equipment in the Oberlin city council chambers.

Proceedings in the room, which doubles as the Oberlin Municipal Court, are difficult to hear in person and when airing on Oberlin Cable Co-op channel 9.

Council members and judge Thomas Januzzi are interested in hiring SoundCom Systems to install two high definition projectors, monitors outside the chambers, a document camera, three robotic pan-tilt-zoom cameras in the ceiling, 15 microphones, a video conferencing device, cable connections, and an assisted listening device.

“The technology has been there to help improve the experience for people in the room and at home,” said councilwoman Elizabeth Meadows. “It’s good for us to do this for the citizens of Oberlin.”

She said a committee consisting of the judge, council members, and city officials have been looking at upgrades to council chambers for two years.

“We’re pretty confident this addresses the needs of the public,” said Richard Threadgill, director of business development for SoundCom Systems.

He assured council that the new gooseneck microphones will help pick up voices and the assisted listening device will help people with hearing problems.

The upgraded system can be controlled with or without an operator depending on the needs of city and court officials.

Januzzi has applied for a $57,000 grant through the Ohio Supreme Court’s 2015 Court Technology Grant.

The city’s share would come from the cable programming fund, said finance director Salvatore Talarico. He said there is roughly $205,000 in that account that can be used for the upgrade.

Threadgill told council members they will need to address lighting in the chambers to help improve the color quality for people watching at home.

Council unanimously agreed to move forward with the project and have an ordinance on the agenda at the July 6 meeting.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.