From the Editor: Conversation continues with more virtual town halls planned
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When COVID-19 shut down businesses across Colorado and a stay-at-home order was enacted locally, Steamboat Springs City Council President Jason Lacy and City Manager Gary Suiter approached me about moderating a town hall panel that would address community members’ questions about the pandemic.
The first town halls were held in City Hall, but as public health orders became more restrictive, the question-and-answer sessions went virtual, and we began using Zoom as our platform. Since that first town hall was held March 20, we have hosted 22 of these sessions, covering all aspects of COVID-19 and its impact on local communities.
The panels proved to be an effective communications tool, offering people an opportunity to get first-hand information from experts and community leaders who were on the frontlines battling the pandemic. And partnering with the city and county to host the town halls was an extension of Steamboat Pilot & Today’s mission to provide our readers with the accurate, unfiltered information they need to navigate COVID-19.
The panels were very well received. On the Pilot’s Facebook page, the videos attracted about 83,500 total views across the 22 town halls with an average of 3,800 views per video.
About a month ago, the urgency to hold twice-a-week panels seemed to lessen as we entered the recovery stage of COVID-19, but at the same time, we realized the opportunity to pose questions to local leaders about pressing issues in real time was something we didn’t want to stop offering the online audience we’d developed over the past four months.
So this week, the city and the Pilot are launching a new version of the town halls that we’re calling “Steamboat Conversations.” We will be hosting twice-monthly panels similar to the earlier panels, but now, the issues covered during the hour-long, virtual sessions will not be limited to COVID-19.
We’ll still periodically host panels that focus on the community’s ongoing response to the pandemic, but we’ll be expanding the sessions to include other timely topics, like the city’s new trash ordinance and community policing. We also plan to focus on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity in September and October in connection with a new six-week series the Pilot will publish called “Indivisible.”
The first “Steamboat Conversations” town hall will take place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and it will focus on the issue of child care. Featured panelists include: Alexis Wolf, city of Steamboat Springs recreation supervisor; Dana Duran, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado; Sharon Butler, program manager for the Family Development Center’s Child Care Network; Kim Martin, director of the Young Tracks Preschool and Child Care Center; and Tracy DelliQuadri, owner of Little Bear Childcare.
As in the past, I’ll be moderating the panels, which will be available as a live video on Steamboat Pilot & Today’s Facebook page, on TV18, the local news station Comcast TV6 and on the city’s website.
To find the panels on the city’s website, go to steamboatsprings.net, click on “Agendas” and then look for the virtual town halls under the meetings listing and click on “View Media.” Videos of the panel discussions are also posted on SteamboatPilot.com/coronavirus.
The second town hall in July will be held at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, and it will offer the latest news on COVID-19 and Routt County’s public health orders.
In August, town halls are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 5 and Aug. 26 with topics to be announced, and then beginning in September, the panel discussions will be held at 10:30 a.m. every first and third Wednesday of the month.
Readers can send questions for upcoming panels as well as suggestions for future town hall topics to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re also welcome to email me directly at email@example.com if you’d like to talk more about “Steamboat Conversations.”
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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