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New members elected to WCTV Board

September 19, 2014

Walpole Community Television will have two new members on its Board of Directors, and will expand from five to six members, after cable subscribers turned out in record numbers at Wednesday evening’s election.

Town Meeting Rep. Rick Brown, and Michael Lawson, the husband of Finance Committee member Susan Lawson, won two seats while Board president Bill St. George was re-elected.

There were three seats up for grabs, with six candidates running, including two incumbents. Mr. St. George and Guy Giampapa were running for re-election, while a third seat was left open by Paul Clerici’s departure. Town Meeting Representatives Sam Obar and John Hasenjaeger both ran in the election as well.

Mr. Brown received the most support, with 49 votes. Mr. Lawson followed with 37 votes, and Mr. St. George secured 19 votes.

A total of 61 cable subscribers attended the election. That is the highest number seen at a Walpole Community TV election in recent memory. Only one person per household was allowed to vote, and all participants had to bring a copy of their cable bill and photo ID to prove eligibility. The election was held at the Walpole Library.

Mr. Lawson and Mr. Brown are likely to push the cable station to work more closely with Walpole Selectmen to rebuild what has been a tattered relationship. In the past few years, Selectmen have accused WCTV Board members of using cable dollars for self-gain, and Selectmen cut off WCTV’s revenue stream from Comcast and Verizon last year in large part over an inability to get the station to agree to certain reforms.

WCTV’s election had been postponed from its usual annual date in January.

In addition to three members elected this week, WCTV’s Board also includes Michael Power, Bob Murphy, and Jeff Mattson, all of whom were appointed by the other Board members rather than elected.

This may very well be the last election ever held for WCTV as we know it. Selectmen voted on Tuesday, the day before the WCTV election, to spend $10,000 of cable revenue to start the process of creating a new cable television entity that would replace WCTV to launch in 2015. The WCTV Board could begin working with Selectmen to transfer the cable station’s remaining funds to the town and school department for various projects, and also move some of its assets to the new cable station.

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