Can Minonk be secured through the internet?

      Editor: Dave Uphoff
Last week this website introduced videos for the first time. Judy's daughter in-law Vicki Olson let me borrow her camcorder to see what I could do with it. Like a kid with a new toy I started video taping everything. Luckily, there was a fortuitous snow storm last week that enabled me to capture some of the storm on video. I put the storm video on this website and Vicki called me immediately and thanked me for putting it out for everyone to see. It suddenly struck me that former Minonk residents really do want to see firsthand what is going on back in the old home town. What better way to remind someone of home than to show a video of happenings in the community?

This past week I was able to obtain a clip of the video showing Kiel Melvin's last second shot that gave Fieldcrest a thrilling victory over Tremont in the Class A Regional title game. The clip came from the full game video that Minonk residents Steve Allen Jeff Zivney, Joe Schmillen, Bob Hakes and Jason Buchanan record at each Fieldcrest basketball game. These games are then replayed on Channel 13 over Medicom cable television. The following day I received an email from someone at Farmington High School who wanted permission to put the video on his school's website, which I gladly granted. He found the clip on the Peoria Journal Star's website. As you can see, the video of the "short heard round the world" has gotten plenty of mileage already.

These experiences have driven home to me that the internet is entering a new era - the era of the video. Website such as MySpace and YouTube display thousands of videos submitted by viewers and are probably the most watched websites in the world. MinonkTalk will never become websites like these two but I do think that this website will become much more interesting with the introduction of videos.

While putting on videos of community happenings on this website will be interesting, there is an even more exciting concept that can be adopted. As everyone knows there are problems with vandalism in this community as there is in all communities. I always felt that putting a surveillance camera in the Westside Park pavilion would help prevent vandalism. Now with improvement in technology it is possible to have a camera send its recordings live over the internet where everyone can watch what's going on in the Westside Park 24/7!

Then I thought why not put a camera on Chestnut Street in downtown Minonk. This would not only allow public surveillance of the downtown area 24/7 by the whole world, it also enables former Minonk residents to feel right at home watching what's happening in their old home town right from the comfort of their computer over the internet. In addition, these cameras can be zoomed or changed direction by our police force right from the computer in their squad cars.

Another benefit of having an internet camera downtown and in the park is that both areas can also provide wireless internet access to those areas. This means that people can access the internet from their laptops downtown or in the park!

While I am sure many residents will find it enjoyable to see what is happening downtown or at the park, some may object to the "snooping" aspect. In addition, to set up these cameras will cost a few thousand dollars and will require the city to pay monthly fees for internet access to the cameras.

I feel that these cameras will not only help prevent vandalism, they will also enhance the image of Minonk as being in the forefront of technological advances in addition to providing a service to the community. To my knowledge, Peoria is the only city that has internet cameras covering the city.

I would like to approach the city council with the prospect of putting up internet cameras downtown and at the park but I want to get public feedback on this first. Let me know if you feel that the benefits of having internet webcams covering Minonk 24/7 more than offset the cost and the concern over "snooping".

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February 26, 2007