Friday, February 13, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Brick by Brick

By Tony Rawlings

As web reporter this week I covered the City Council’s special meeting regarding the finalization of plans for the Carpenter Street reconstruction. The City Council held a special meeting within its normal committee meetings to discuss the Carpenter Street project because the deadline to sign the engineering contract for the renovation would come before the next meeting.

Getting the Story Done
As web reporter, my job was to tag along with the news reporter who was covering the story for tv. First I helped JJ Andersen, the tv news reporter, get some shots of some of the problem areas on the street and interview a few business owners on Carpenter Street to see how they felt about the proposed renovation and also see how it would affect their businesses.

The businesses that JJ chose to target for the story were Broney’s Alumni Grill and The Subtle Bug auto repair shop. The owner of Broney’s declined to speak on camera, but Skip, the owner of The Subtle Bug was a great interview. He discussed the advantages and drawbacks that the reconstruction would cause to his business.

After we did the interview with Skip I helped JJ shoot his stand-up and get a few extra shots of the street. By pure coincidence there were workers surveying the intersection of Carpenter and Court street. That helped strengthen our video, as it would give viewers an idea that this project is past the talking stage and that the renovation is coming soon.

Facing City Council
After the shoot JJ and I met at the Athens City Council meeting to get video of the members discussing the project and also to get the details of the project itself. I was nervous going into the city council meeting because I had never been to one before and didn’t know exactly what to expect. I had heard horror stories from other students about the... um... how should I say this?... “Lack of excitement” that comes with the topics discussed at City Council meetings.

Luckily the “Special Meeting “ was about ten minutes into the actual city council committee meetings and only lasted about seven minutes. I actually felt like a real reporter saying, “I think we got what we need, let’s get outta here.” So that was nice, ha-ha. But seriously, It wasn’t that bad, it was actually pretty informative. I learned about other upcoming projects and got the information I needed for my story.

The Project
The reconstruction will begin at the beginning of this summer once the majority of students have left for summer break and traffic decreases in the area. It calls for a complete removal of all the bricks on Carpenter Street from where Lancaster Street begins by Dirty Deeds Laundry, to the intersection of Carpenter and East State Street.

Once the bricks have been removed, crews will work on the sewer system that runs below the street, and re-brick it. After the street has been repaired, crews will also repair damaged curbs along the street. The project will cost $62,900 and the city may seek funding assistance from the federal stimulus package and FEMA.

This was a very informative assignment, without it I would have had no idea that any of this was in the works. Another reason I’m glad that I got this story assignment is that it gave me an idea of how the Athens City Council works, so I’ll know what to expect if I have to cover another meeting. I’m also very anxious to see what Carpenter Street will look like once the reconstruction is complete next fall.

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