Dear Members, Volunteers, and Supporters,
On April 13th the City of Inver Grove Heights extended its local state of emergency until May 31st and announced that city facilities would remain closed until further notice. The NDC4 Commission and Town Square Television building at 5845 Blaine Avenue will remain closed, and we will follow the city’s schedule for future return to normal operations. Please see our March 19th letter for details about our ongoing services during the “Stay at Home” order.
Our ability to keep our staff working (mostly remotely) has allowed us to:
- Rapidly assist our member cities and school districts to get live virtual government meetings up and running. For the Cities of Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, and West St. Paul, Independent School District 197, and South St. Paul Schools we shifted our meeting coverage from traditional to “virtual” almost overnight, using platforms like Zoom and WebEx to move meetings online and onto cable TV while still allowing residents to participate as much as possible. Together with our city and school district staff, we scaled a high learning curve, re-configured existing equipment and purchased new, and helped with testing and training elected officials and staff on new technology and processes, while keeping meetings running on-schedule on our channels and website.
- Share vital Covid-19 information with a wider audience. We are converting our local governments’ online videos to be shared in tens of thousands of cable viewing homes. We are aggregating our cities, schools, chambers of commerce, businesses, non-profits, and faith organizations urgent COVID-19 messages on our Community Bulletin Board Channel 21, and on the Community Message Board on our web site home page.
- Assist local organizations in using video to transform events into virtual and video opportunities. Through partnerships with stations like ours around the Twin Cities, we are carrying the MN Department of Health daily updates (with the Governor), Congressional, state, city, and county town halls on our cable channels, and providing some of the feeds in multiple languages. We are methodically reaching out to about 75 faith organizations to help them get their services or videos onto cable, so that more residents can re-connect with their congregations, especially those who may have basic cable but not the connections or devices to watch online. We carried the St. Paul Cathedral’s Holy Week services live and share them with neighboring stations.
- Search our archives for the “best of” past programs like Game of the Week Classics, and re-format them to share on cable and social media. We are doing the same with relevant past Insight 7 stories, school, and community programs, and adding highlights to help our viewers re-connect with fun memories and call attention to great stories that you may have missed the first time around. We are also changing the way that we record many of our regularly-produced shows, like Insight7, SportsZone, The Good Stuff, and more, so we can keep producing new content, remotely.
- Continue to help cable customers in getting their problems resolved in our role as the local franchise authority. We are working remotely and answering our phones during regular business hours. In early April we learned from one of our mayors that families were struggling to take advantage of the special programs offered by local cable companies, such as discounted internet service and free Wi-Fi hot spots. We immediately helped to connect all three of our school districts with representatives at the cable companies to get updated instructions and find creative solutions to ensure that their last remaining families were connected, so they could participate in distance learning at home.
If you would like to support our ability to keep on providing LOCAL community video programming and communications support to our cities, schools, families, non-profits, businesses, and faith groups, you may donate online at here or send a check to Town Square Television at 5845 Blaine Avenue, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076.
On behalf of all 13 of our employees, I want to express our deep gratitude that we are able to keep working during this time, doing our small part to assist the real heroes, the medical teams, first responders, food/retail/sanitation/custodial workers, and all on the front lines.
Jodie Miller, Executive Director