SYKESVILLE — This South Carroll town on the Patapsco River has much to offer its residents and others in surrounding communities: a historic train station housing a fine restaurant, an active downtown business district,attractive parks and several annual festivals.
But promoting these amenities on a limited budget has the Town Council stumped.
Paul LeValley, director of Carroll Community Television, the county's public access cable channel, offered the council at least one solution Monday. He provided the council with packets of information onhow to use Channel 55 topromote Sykesville.
"The town can do its own programming," LeValley said. "You can contact me, attend one of two monthly meetings we have with the producers, and you get a crew totape what you want."
Using the public access channel, he said, would be cheaper than having to buy equipment to use for airing something on Prestige's channels reserved for the town's use.
"You need a$2,000 modulator and a line to Westminster for that, although I'm not sure if Prestige has to supply the line," he said.
"But that's what we have Channel 55 for -- it's one channel and easy to promote. It's not only a channel people can watch, but one they can use."
Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said he would like more Sykesville residents tobecome involved with community television.
Although several council members expressed interest in using Channel 55 to promote the town, the panel didn't take any action on the proposal.
LeValley told council members that Channel 55 offers a production course at CarrollCommunity College for individuals wanting to do their own programming. After finishing the course, students may borrow the station's equipment at no charge, he said.
LeValley said classes are held on Monday and Tuesday evenings.
"But if that's a problem, we can make arrangements for one-on-one instruction, if necessary," he said. "We'venever turned down anybody."
LeValley also cleared up some confusion about funding for the public access channel.
He said Channel 55receives 25 cents a month per subscriber, or $60,000 a year, from Prestige Cablevision, but that funding is scheduled to end in 1999. Other money comes from interest on a $550,000 endowment fund establishedfor the channel.
Channel 55's annual budget is about $115,000, LeValley said.
"Once we get to be self-sustaining at about $150,000 a year, the money would stop," LeValley said. "We have no thought of having a large pot of money to draw on, of increasing our staff or building new facilities."
In a later discussion on dissatisfaction with Prestige Cablevision's service and its increasing monthly rates, Councilman Walter White suggested the town invite Frederick Cablevision Inc. to a council meeting to see what that firm could offer.
"Prestige has no competition in Carroll County and maybe needs some," White said, noting that Frederick Cablevision has been negotiating with Mount Airy.
The council also approved Helt's appointment of Clerk/Treasurer Vincent Diffenbaugh as the town's Carroll Cable Committeerepresentative.