Documentary participation fails for lack of consensus

This year brought Franklin County the opportunity to opt in to a promotional documentary experience, but it was not met with universal approval – and the opportunity is now off the table.

Jan. 27 Janet Brown, production assistant for senior producer Anthony Davis of the television show “Viewpoint hosted by Dennis Quaid,” reached out to the Franklin County Commission via an email to Chairman Barry Moore to express interest in Franklin County being part of what she described as “a positive and educational documentary television series” focusing on “Discover America: Great Places to Live, Visit and Start a Business.”

Brown said the television program is educational and documentary-style; runs nationwide on public television; and is broadcast as commercial news breaks on CNN Headline News, CNBC, Fox Business, Learning Channel and Discovery Channel, among other stations. It is also distributed on the Internet via “narrowcasting” – aimed at a narrowly-defined area or audience, such as paying subscribers.

She explained the suggested plan was for Davis to “interview 7-10 possible guests and ultimately select one expert to participate in the program on a given topic.” Examples of the short-form documentaries are available at www.viewpointproject.com.

Moore shared the information with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

Executive director Cassie Medley said she and Moore had a conference call with Davis and Brown Feb. 1 to learn more, and they shared the information with other government officials in the county.

Medley said two meetings were held at the Chamber, where local officials met to discuss the possibility of participating in the project. The Feb. 7 meeting was attended by Moore, county administrator Leah Mansell, County Commissioner Chris Wallace, Franklin County Development Authority executive director Sherye Price, Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher, Vina Mayor Michael Moomaw and Hodges Mayor Brian Scott. The Feb. 10 meeting was attended by Moore, Mansell, Scott, county commissioners Joseph Baldwin, David Hester and Jason Miller and Russellville city clerk Belinda Miller.

COSTS

The cost breakdown was listed as follows, allocated based on the population size of each entity:

  • Franklin County Commission – $14,753.73, based on 51 percent of the population.
  • Russellville – $9,768.93, based on 34 percent of the population.
  • Red Bay – $2,921.23, based on 10 percent of the population.
  • Phil Campbell – $841.45, based on 3 percent of the population.
  • Vina – $376.18, based on 1 percent of the population.
  • Hodges – $238.49, based on 1 percent of the population.

In its regular meeting Feb. 15, the Red Bay City Council approved paying Red Bay’s portion for participating.

“I think that’s a very minimal amount to be a part of this,” Fancher said during the meeting. “We thought it was fair to base the fee each entity pays toward this based on population.”

Fancher explained she’d met with some of the other mayors during the previous week, where they had reached an agreement, along with the Franklin County Commission, that either everyone was “all in” or it “isn’t a go.”

At that meeting, Fancher said she felt the documentary would benefit Franklin County, and Red Bay Councilman Jason Vinson noted Red Bay and the other municipalities, as well as the commission, would have rights to the video upon its completion, to be used for other marketing purposes if desired. Fancher said while the clip for the whole county would be 3-5 minutes, it would include “a lot of information about each city.”

NO-GO

According to the Franklin County Commission, Russellville and Phil Campbell were not in favor, making the documentary participation a no-go. Russellville City Hall confirmed Russellville had chosen not to participate. Russellville and Phil Campbell city halls reported the opportunity was not addressed during a council meeting.

“I polled the members of the city council, and we were not interested in participating in this program,” explained Russellville Mayor David Grissom. “We feel Iike there are more effective and economical ways to promote the City of Russellville and Franklin County.”

Phil Campbell Mayor Michael McQuary declined to comment.

Medley said the deadline to participate in the project was Feb. 17.

Mansell confirmed that regarding documentary participation, it “was voted on at the Feb. 21 meeting that the commission would proceed with the project if all cities and municipalities would be involved. Not all of them wanted to be involved, so the project has stopped.”

REACTIONS

Moore said he’s disappointed the project will not be moving forward. “It would have been good recognition for the county and the cities,” he added.

Medley said the project “would have been beneficial to the county as a whole,” adding Moomaw “said it best” — having remarked during one of the meetings that regardless of whether Vina’s name was mentioned in the documentary, he knew it would benefit them because “it would benefit the county as a whole.”

“I thought that was a great way to look at it,” Medley added.

Medley related the opportunity to the Helen Keller quote, “Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

“That’s with everything and especially with this project,” she said. “It had to be everybody working together; nobody could do it alone. We all have to work together, every city and town and municipality, as well as the commission – we all have to work as a team for things to move forward.”

Fancher said she was “very disappointed to miss an opportunity at a very affordable price to showcase Franklin County on major broadcasting stations throughout the U.S.”

“We were selected for a reason, the reason being that Franklin County is very attractive for newcomers and visitors, as well as those locating to our county,” she said. “It was very important that we work as a team to achieve these endeavors.”

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