Can’t hear? Muni court fix coming soon

A $171,000 upgrade is being weighed for cameras and sound equipment at the Oberlin Municipal Court.

A large number of Amherst traffic and misdemeanor cases (South Amherst as well) are heard in the courtroom, which doubles as Oberlin city council chambers.

But officials say it is often too difficult to heard proceedings.

Oberlin council members and judge Thomas Januzzi are interested in hiring SoundCom Systems to install two high definition projectors, monitors outside the chambers, a document camera, three robotic pan-tilt-zoom cameras in the ceiling, 15 microphones, a video conferencing device, cable connections, and an assisted listening device.

“We’re pretty confident this addresses the needs of the public,” said Richard Threadgill, director of business development for SoundCom.

The new gooseneck microphones will help pick up voices and the assisted listening device will help people with hearing problems, he said.

The upgraded system can be controlled with or without an operator depending on the needs of city and court officials.

Januzzi has applied for a $57,000 grant through the Ohio Supreme Court’s 2015 Court Technology Grant.

Oberlin’s share would come from the cable programming fund, said finance director Salvatore Talarico. He said there is roughly $205,000 in that account that can be used for the upgrade.

As planned, the project does not appear to call on Amherst to share any construction costs. Cities, villages, and townships that use the court already share annual operating costs.

Threadgill told council members they will need to address lighting in the chambers to help improve the color quality for people watching at home on Oberlin Cable Co-op Channel 9.

Oberlin city council unanimously agreed to move forward with the project and have an ordinance on the agenda at the July 6 meeting.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.