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February 22, 2008
Update on Women’s Summit 2008
On March 6, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will host the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit 2008. This event will be held at the James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center with registration starting at 8 a.m. on the first floor. 
As a Visionary Sponsor of this event, the County will receive reserved seating at the event, a table for 10 at the luncheon, table signage, space for the County seal on the Women’s Summit website, special recognition in the Charlotte Observer, and a complimentary continental breakfast at the event. Board members are invited to attend the event, the luncheon, and breakout sessions. 
There will be six break-out sessions offered in the morning and repeated in the afternoon. Session topics include:
  • Child and Elder Care
  • Domestic Violence
  • Charlotte’s Housing Crisis
  • Pay Equity/Life Equity
  • Political Leadership
  • Healthy Women and Girls 
The full program schedule is available online. Board members who plan to attend should RSVP by 5 p.m. on Monday, February 25 to Deborah Goldberg at 704-336-2611 or via email. Board members planning to attend the breakout sessions should provide your preferences for the morning or afternoon breakout sessions.

Comments Sought on Transit Station Plan
The Planning Department recently completed the draft of the New Bern Transit Station Area Plan. This is the first of a series of plans for the stations located along the South Transit Corridor. The New Bern Transit Station is located near the intersection of New Bern Street and South Boulevard. 
Consistent with the Interlocal Agreement, members of the Board of County Commissioners are invited to submit comments to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department during the plan review process. The draft plan is available online. Tuesday, March 11 is the deadline for Board members who would like to submit formal comments on the plan. Please contact Planning Director Debra Campbell at 704-336-2671 or via  email to provide comments or for additional information.
Community Dialogues Proposed
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee (CRC), Community Building Initiative (CBI), and Mecklenburg Ministries are proposing a series of community dialogues about recent events associated with selecting the Mecklenburg County Sheriff. The dialogues are intended to be inclusive of various perspectives and different points of view to open lines of communication about difficult issues beyond this one event. The desired outcome is to foster understanding and model behaviors to strengthen our community. 
The CRC, CBI, and Mecklenburg Ministries are asking for input from elected officials, the faith community, business leaders, and others about this proposal. If you are interested in participating, please contact Willie Ratchford, Executive Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee at 704-336-2195 or via email.

The Mecklenburgers on Target to Meet Ratings Goals
At its planning conference in October, the Board received a report on our goals, services and results in raising public awareness about County matters. This included details about “The Mecklenburgers” TV show, which is one of several communications tactics the Public Service & Information Department (PS&I) uses to communicate directly with Mecklenburg County residents.
At that time, the report revealed that Neilson viewer ratings for the show had increased 127% for the third season, with an average of 3,135 households (approximately 10,000 viewers) tuning in each episode. The Board also learned that the two main goals for the fourth season were to increase the average viewer ratings another 50% to 4,700 households, while reducing production costs through private underwriting.
The fourth season debuted four weeks ago (the show airs at 6 p.m. Sundays on WAXN). Although the ratings may fluctuate each week, currently the show is averaging at the target of 4,700 viewing households. The episode that aired on February 3, opposite the Super Bowl, drew a rating of 1.2, or 12,500 households. Last Sunday’s episode was watched by approximately 7,300 households.  
There also has been progress in securing underwriting for the show. Over the last two weeks “ The Mecklenburgers” added two new sponsors for upcoming episodes, which will offset some production costs for these shows. This recent activity may be related to the increased number of viewers or the publicity surrounding the two regional Emmy nominations for the show.
Next month, a local research firm will be conducting focus groups to determine the extent to which viewers learn about the County’s responsibilities, services and results. For additional information, please contact PS&I Director Danny Diehl at 704-336-2084 or via  email.

WTVI Proposes Electronic Public Square
Several months ago after reviewing a proposal from WTVI, we concluded that it was a slight variation of the status quo, and therefore was inconsistent with the Board’s direction to develop “a long-term plan and new business model that maximizes the community value of a publicly owned TV station.” After further discussion with members of the Board of County Commissioners, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Broadcasting Authority Board of Directors decided to consider new and different scenarios and business models for the future of WTVI. The result is a new concept tentatively called Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Square.
Public Square would provide a 24-hour digital broadcast television channel and integrated web site operated by WTVI to inform and engage people about civic matters, and to encourage participation in civic life across racial and economic boundaries. 
This new channel would be one of two channels operated by WTVI after all broadcasters must end analog broadcasts and transition exclusively to the digital and high definition (HD) formats. 
WTVI’s plan calls for one channel to be WTVI’s HD offering that would be similar to its current programming. Public Square would be the second digital channel focusing primarily on local programming. Public Square’s local programming would be a combination of original shows developed by WTVI and shows developed by other community organizations including local governments, non-profit organizations and independent producers. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College already have expressed interest in providing programming as community partners of Public Square.
Currently, County staff is working with members of WTVI’s Board and staff to evaluate the concept and the funding model, and provide feedback. In addition, on March 4, WTVI is hosting a community leadership and visioning exercise on Public Square to gauge community interest in this concept. We anticipate a briefing for the Board on Public Square at an upcoming Board meeting. For additional information, contact General Manager John McGillicuddy at 704-336-2661 or email.
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager

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