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by Bill Thomas
In production over seven years, the “Around Town” programs, first proposed by former Mayor/Council member Wayne Eggleston and supported by the City Council, are modeled after television personality Huell Hower’s successful “California’s Gold” series. Members of the City Council individually host different programs telling the historical stories and events of the community. The City staffs part-time videographers who tape regular Council and Planning Commission meetings and videotape and edit the “Around Town” programs. These air on Cox Channel 30 and are posted on the City’s website video library. Public Information Officer Laura Ferguson, assisted by City Clerk Joanne Baade, scripts the programs in advance with detailed information on topics.
The “Around Town” target audiences for this educational and topical program are San Clemente citizens and visitors. The City is able to provide accurate and timely information about local issues, activities and events, and enhances ongoing communication and accessibility of municipal government to residents. The program also enables the City to unite City Council leadership with members of our citizenry. Faces can be put with public names. That’s not always the case in other communities.
Laura Ferguson believes “Around Town” has been well received. “Residents and, occasionally, visitors, are interviewed by the hosts, which provide a “down-home” feeling, “she writes. “We view an incredible level of community spirit, dedication to helping others and overall volunteerism. The program provides an opportunity to highlight these individuals and non-profit groups up close and personal, draw attention to their worthy accomplishments and connect people, ideas, and resources. This contributes to the program’s local flavor.”
City Council hosts have also been pleased. Councilman and former Mayor Jim Everett “…loves it. It gets subjects and information out to people, openings of parks, athletics, and salutes to contributing organizations such as the Kiwanis and Rotary, the water shed task force, marine safety. It’s great information. It’s fun for the Council and interviewees, and everybody wins.”
Councilwoman and former Mayor Lori Donchak indicated, “’Around Town’ is a great civic booster. It salutes some of the many good works going on in our town. No matter what the topic, the tone is upbeat and uniquely “San Clemente.” She continued, “Some of my favorite
'Around Town’ topics are those that combine civic pride with education. Earth Day is a great example of that. Not only are our gorgeous beaches recognized, but there’s a message about how invested people are in taking care of our beaches. I also enjoyed filming the episode on the variety of foundations that have sprouted up to make our schools better. Parents all over town are making the extra effort to help the schools, and it’s impressive. Mainly, ‘Around Town,’ is just energy. From the opening of Vista Hermosa Sports Park to Dancing for a Cause, the episodes just make me proud to live here.”
Former Mayor and Councilman Bob Baker said, “It’s lots of fun to share great things around town with people who don’t always see that stuff. Things like engineering regulations, just talking to people, the continuously improving level of employee dedication. It provides insights for Council members beyond their jobs. Love for the City, the Boys and Girls Club, autism, Courtney’s Sandcastle, Kid of the Year, St. Patrick’s Day - all become important topics.”
According to former Mayor and Councilman Wayne Eggleston, “It’s important to have new people and those who have lived here to know about ‘Spanish Village by the Sea.’ These programs prevent remembrances and secrets from going into the past such as Bertha Henry. The grant from Cox to get them going was generous in allowing us to upgrade our system cameras and ground ability. I’m so pleased the series successfully continues.”
Former Councilman and Mayor Joe Anderson enjoyed the Carnival Colossal interviews as a fun time, interviewing venders and children just about the fun they were having. They’re lots of activities in the community that go on that not everyone is exposed to. Programs can be light-hearted and entertaining. They can also be serious, such as earthquakes, traffic impairment, parking problems. It’s an opportunity for citizens of the community to have another window to activities and a good way to bring information to people at the place where it’s happening.” Current mayor and Councilman Tim Brown agrees that “Around Town” touches on the environment, history, architecture, and natural features of the community. He feels it provides exposure for a lot of people and that the programs provide excitement, professionalism and information.”
“Around Town’s” young videographer Jennifer Makhoul has an MFA from Chapman University and also films community programs for the City of Irvine. She indicated that ‘”Around Town’ is a wonderful way for activities, programs, and events to be highlighted and an opportunity to open the eyes of the citizens of San Clemente to what’s going on in their community.” She loves the “shoots” and “watching real life stories unfold from behind my camera and capturing the real emotions and natural responses of the citizens who are involved.” Her favorites are the Vista Hermosa Sports Park opening and “Dancing for a Cause.”
On the tarmac, according to Laura Ferguson, are two programs which will air soon. The first is a comprehensive program about public safety services provided in San Clemente. This program, hosted by Councilman Chris Hamm covers police, fire, and marine safety services. The second, hosted by Councilman Jim Evert will focus on unique places in town that introduce children to various sports, including skateboarding, ice hockey, baseball, and surfing. Copies of past programs are available through the City’s website: san-cl;emente.org b