By Mai Ling Slaughter
Although Centralia and Chehalis have been tagged as neighboring rivals, community leaders on Saturday said now is the time to work together to save money and form a community. “We can’t afford to be rivals anymore,” said Chehalis Councilor Bud Hatfeild at the council of governments meeting Saturday. “It’s going to be an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary process.” From combining wastewater and regional police dispatch systems, to forming more regionalized public television access, leaders of Lewis County and cities of Chehalis and Centralia agreed working together could help the community.
Although they plan to speak more thoroughly about a regional wastewater system at their next meeting in September, the group spoke extensively about public access television. Don Mitchell, president of of the Lewis County Television board, discussed teaming up with Centralia-based CCTV rather than trying to take over the public access television station, to which some have believed was LCTV’s goal. “There’s certainly an opportunity for us to work together instead of going seperate ways,” Mitchell said. Mitchell asked Lewis County and the cities of Centralia and Chehalis to help finance the station, to which Centralia Councilor Bill Moeller suggested each entity donate 25 pecent of it’s cable tax. Although Mayor Bob Spahr said he supports LCTV, he is reluctant to spend money if the community does not supprt the project. “The citizenry needs to understand: There has to be a tax increase somewhere, somehow,” he said. Hatfiel recommended
LCTV board members look beyond the three entities, perhaps requesting funding from school districts that would like to participate in producing programs. He said he has not recieved any calls from community members requesting to see the Chehalis City Council meetings or any other public events in Chehalis televised. But Centralia Councilor Carol Lee Neely said city residents now respond positively to the televised Centralia City Council meetings, although she also recieved no comment prior to their showing. Because CCTV was previously funded by Centralia and still uses the city’s equpment and production building, their city council meetings are regularly shown on CCTV. The idea for LCTV was created by Hollywood movie producer C.Tad Devlin, who was also at the meeting. Although LCTV is not creating programing at this time, Devlin said in an interveiw he hopes to help residents produce their own shows if the group is able to find money. One of LCTV’s goals is to show more educational programing, including shows produced by professional companies, although local producers would be preferred, Mitchell said. “We’re trying to make a good station,” Mitchell said. “The CCTV group really wants to make a better program too.”