Friday, January 15th, 2010
By Shelley Grieshop
Commissioners pull the plug on Web site video
Assistant prosecutor reviews video matter, says it would be illegal
  Mercer County commissioners on Thursday decided to nix the creation of a video for their Web site after discovering it would violate state law.
The proposed contract for the service - which commissioners thought would help promote the local area - was recently reviewed by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Amy Ikerd, who determined it would violate a section of the Ohio Revised Code dealing with counties and commercial advertising.
The company the commissioners planned to contract with, CGI Communications, offered to create the video/audio stream and place it on the county Web site at no cost. CGI would recoup their expenses by soliciting advertising from local businesses, who in turn would receive advertising space on the Web.
The arrangement could be classified as a "joint venture" with the advertisers, which is not allowed by county governments in Ohio, Administrative Clerk Kim Everman explained during the meeting Thursday.
The video's purpose was to highlight Grand Lake, museums, restaurants and hotels, hospitals and other locations to spark tourism and bring businesses to the local region.
Commissioners had hoped to link the video to other Web sites such as the Auglaize-Mercer Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Celina-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce and the county's Economic Development agency.
All three commissioners voiced disappointment after learning the proposal was awash.
"I thought it was a wonderful idea," Commissioner Bob Nuding said.
Commissioner Jerry Laffin noted that CGI - based in Rochester, N.Y. - likely hoped to use a letter of support from the board of commissioners to gather advertising.
Laffin told Everman to notify CGI about the change of plans. He suggested the local visitor's bureau and/or chamber office may still wish to proceed with CGI's service.
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