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County commission chambers get a technology upgrade

Feb 17, 2023 10:16AM ● By Linda Petersen

Thanks to ARPA funding, the Morgan County Commission chambers will receive an upgrade.

As the U.S. mostly moves beyond COVID, leftovers from the pandemic time are still impacting communities across the country. In Morgan County’s case, it’s a positive thing — the ability to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for the betterment of the county. At the Feb. 7 Morgan County Commission meeting, acting chair Blaine Fackrell introduced a bid to upgrade the county commission chambers with some of those funds.

“This room is not technologically savvy, and we would like to be able to use some of our ARPA monies … and we can use it under … their rules and regulations,” he said. “There are rules and regulations that allow for technology infrastructure within the county for different items.” 

The remodel, to be performed by GENCOMM, a Draper-based audio-visual equipment supplier, will include two 86-inch monitors with articulating mounts that will be added on either side of the dais so that anyone in the audience can clearly see and read the proceedings, according to materials submitted by the contractor. Two additional 43-inch monitors, which will be mounted from the ceiling, will be added to the audience area and will allow participants in the back rows to still be able to see and read what is being displayed. All the monitors will be linked to each other.

With the new system, laptops or iPads can be added to the network with ease, Jeremey Archibald of the county’s IT department told the council. The system can broadcast to four different social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn at the same time and will be controlled by a central controller. It will also feature assisted listening systems for the hard of hearing for up to four people. The new system will replace the current audio-visual setup in the chambers except for the speakers. The system, which will cost $67,422, is very similar to what Morgan City utilizes, he said.

That night Archibald asked the commission to authorize dispersal of the ARPA funds for the project. The county commission unanimously voted to do so. Archibald told the commission he and County Attorney Garrett Smith would still need to sit down with the contractor and work out some contract details with GENCOMM and will then bring it back to the commission for final approval. 

The county had previously put this project out to bid, but when the only bid received was in excess of $107,000, county officials determined to have it rebid, Archibald said. GENCOMM, a state contractor, was the second bidder.

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