Thursday, August 21, 2008
AT&T asks to offer video to Holly Springs
By SUE WATSON
Gunner Goad, area manager for AT&T of North Mississippi, visited the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen August 4 to request that his company be allowed to deliver video service over the phone wires.
He said an attorney’s general opinion gives his company the right to offer the same services as the local cable company.
AT&T would offer the city the same percentage to provide service as the cable company, he said.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said the city’s current contract with MetroCast runs to year 2010.
Goad said competition is good for business and that the city would not be required to do anything. It can stay with the current cable company and let AT&T come in, he said.
DeBerry asked Goad how the city benefits from the video sales offered by AT&T.
“We are offering to pay the same service fee as they (cable) are,” Goad said.
The mayor asked who would keep track of how many customers AT&T signs up.
Goad said his company provides documentation.
Alderman Nancy Hutchens wanted time for city attorney Ki Jones to read over the contract with MetroCast to make sure the company did not have exclusive rights to offer video.
Goad said other cities have not had any problem with more than one provider in the area. Some have Comcast or Time-Warner, he said.
AT&T is offering video to customers in Horn Lake, Senatobia, DeSoto County, Tunica and other places in North Mississippi, Goad said, adding, “We have the right to do this.”
The board took no action on Goad’s request, pending a review of the city’s contract with MetroCast.
In other business, tourism director Stephanie Movre, Chris Liddy and Betty Carole Wittjen sought the board’s support for representing the city in Oxford two days prior to and during the presidential debate between Barrack Obama and John McCain.
The Mississippi Development Authority is putting together a reception for the media at the Oxford Convention Center, Movre said.
“Each city was asked to participate,” she said.
Movre said the Holly Springs Tourism Bureau would create a press packet to hand out to visiting journalists that would include press releases and stories. The tourism bureau would offer these to some 3,000 visiting journalists expected to be in the area during the event.
MDA is requesting each local entity participate at a cost of $1,500, Movre said.
The tourism office does not have money on hand to pay the fee as it was a last minute offer, but Movre said it is important for Holly Springs to get as much recognition as possible.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun objected.
“I am confused about the $1,500,” he said. “You get $7,000 to $10,000 a month (in tourism tax). Why don’t you have the money? Where is the money going?”
“We are probably going to spend another $1,500 on promotional items,” Movre said. “Our budget is tight. What we spend is already allocated.’
DeBerry expressed skepticism in the return the city would get on the investment.
“It is obviously a national event, but the fact you have a national debate with political press coming in...I’m trying to see the bang for the buck,” the mayor said.
Wittjen said she expected the press would be doing local stories to supplement their coverage of the event.
DeBerry wondered why the state would need $1,500 from each city in the region, some 30 or more.
“It is a full-blown reception - food and decorations,” Movre said. ‘We are looking at 20-25 local governments participating and about 3,000 reporters coming in.”
“They will have to fill in (news space) with human interest stories,” added Chris Liddy.
“I don’t see...These groups are political junkies,” said DeBerry. “How much bang do we get for this?”
“This is very big,” Liddy said. “There are only three debates. They are putting up a chain-link fence around Ole Miss for security. The focus is to get as much PR (positive press attention) for the state, as they can.”
“This is the only way we can get in front of them,’ Movre said.
“All we are asking is for the fee to get our foot in the door,’ Liddy added.
Movre said the tourism bureau needs about $2,000 worth of promotional materials.
“And we need to have new material,” she said.
Hutchens asked if other attractions in the city will be asked to supply their materials.
“We want something small and concise,” Movre said. “Keychains and such to promote the area.”
Colhoun elaborated on his earlier remarks.
“I think we do need to be there, but what concerns me is $1,500,” he said. “I want the city to advance $1,500 on tourism’s next month’s check - a loan and when tax comes in the next month, the city deducts it.”
“We based our budget on increasing tourism revenue, but it’s down,” Movre said. “It’s tight for everyone and for y’all, too.”
With that, alderman Tim Liddy made a motion to pay the registration fee for the Holly Springs Tourism Bureau at the Oxford Convention Center for the debate.
Hutchens seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Colhoun explained his concerns further after the motion passed.
“I just have a problem with tourism not standing alone,” he said. “Tourism should be promoting Holly Springs instead of us promoting them (the debate) and giving money to support them – $1,500 is not a lot; I may be totally out of line.”
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