Henry County Communications Director, Julie Hoover-Ernst, is the host of "Inside Out," a monthly program which explores government issues in the county.
By Jason A. Smith
Henry County has launched a new television program, aimed at informing residents about local government.
The first edition of the "Inside Out" show aired Friday. A new edition will be taped each month, featuring county commissioners and other area officials, according to producers.
"We are very excited to now have a programming format in which we can go in-depth on specific topics, and allow commissioners to update their constituents directly," said Henry Communications Director, and "Inside Out" host, Julie Hoover-Ernst. "We have a small staff to be able to pull off a production like this, but we felt it was important to bring this depth of information to Henry County citizens. We look forward to making the program even better as we get used to the process."
The premiere April edition features Henry Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis; Ron Burckhalter, director of Henry's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Capital Projects program; and Planning & Zoning Director, Cheri Hobson-Matthews.
Hoover-Ernst said the debut edition's discussion centers on the SPLOST program, the Transportation Investment Act and impact fees for the county.
"Inside Out also gets to the bottom of why the Board of Commissioners -- and Henry County taxpayers -- have a vested interest in the Henry Medical Center's decision to partner with either Emory or Piedmont [Healthcare]," Hoover-Ernst said.
Chairman Mathis said Hoover-Ernst devised the concept for "Inside Out."
"The goal of the program is to help citizens better understand what it takes to make our government function, and provide more detailed information about topics which we refer to in board meetings, but often don't take time to fully explain in that setting," Mathis said. Taking what we do on the 'inside' of government, 'out' to our citizens gives us another tool to convey information, that will keep our citizens more fully informed about issues that affect them."
Henry residents, Hoover-Ernst continued, will have an opportunity to submit questions about county government, several of which will be selected to be answered during "Inside Out."
"We're hoping to see questions of general interest to residents, things people may have always wondered about, such as why we do things a certain way," explained Hoover-Ernst. "We think this is a great way to encourage more citizen involvement, and some of the questions could even become show topics."
The program host added that the county does not have a way of determining the specific viewership for "Inside Out."
"We believe that the channel's other programs have a good following, however, because people ask us about the things they see in the Update and the meetings when we are out," she said.
Other services provided by Henry's Communications Department include a 2,000-plus page web site; a weekly newsletter reaching nearly 3,000 people; "tweets" to more than 700 twitter followers; and press releases to media outlets.
The May edition of "Inside Out" will feature District I Commissioner Warren Holder, SPLOST Transportation Director Roque Romero, and Parks & Recreation Director Tim Coley, according to Hoover-Ernst.
"Inside Out" will be re-broadcast daily throughout the month of April, four times per day. Show times are at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m., each day. The program will also be available on demand at http://henryga.granicus.com. To submit a question to Inside Out, visit www.henrycounty-ga.org/insideout.