Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MT. HERMON WEB-TV


In my leisure time back in the late 50’s, I loved to fish and spend Saturdays floating the Bogue Chitto River with my former husband and his brother-in-law, fly fishing in eddies of the river near the forested swamp around Franklinton, Louisiana. A neophyte at fly fishing, I was fortunate enough to catch many bluegill and sunfish in this wonderful river with its many gravel and sand bars, but my major job, when not fishing, was to watch for logs, which we very often ran over since I was distracted by the other fishermen’s catches.

The Bogue Chitto River arises around Brookhaven, Mississippi and flows southward to Louisiana, through Washington Parish and into the west Pearl River Canal at Bogalusa, Louisiana. Our fishing party would launch a green aluminum “joe boat” in the river near Franklinton and fish the waters all the way to the site of the old “Tavern,” which had a landing near Mt. Hermon, Louisiana. At the time of our fishing expeditions, Mt. Hermon, Louisiana, which is still unincorporated, was a small rural community that probably had half its present population of 2,600.

Last week, I was surprised to get an e-mail from David Miller, the enterprising owner of Mt. Hermon Web- TV based in this small community where we emerged from our all-day fishing trips. David wanted permission to embed my blogs in his website. I searched online and discovered that the site not only covers news in Washington parish, it includes state and national news, international news, TV picks of westerns, cartoons, documentaries; farm programs, daily crosswords, “Chef’s Kitchen,” and now has three blog contributors.

I asked David if he’d tell me more about the establishment of this website based in the hill country of southeast Louisiana near the Bogue Chitto River and to discuss his plans for the site’s future. He agreed to the following interview.

Moore: First, I think that readers would like to understand the concept of Web-TV. Would you explain this concept?
Miller: Web-TV or Internet TV or Online TV (although distinctions can be made between the terms) is simply the distribution of television content via the Internet.

Moore: Did you develop an early interest in communications? And did you major in this subject at a university?
Miller: No, I developed an early interest in business thanks to Mrs. Mary Margaret Burris, who taught at Franklinton High School, and I went on to major in Business Administration at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.

Moore: What is your main focus or mission for this site?
Miller: I started with a mission to provide more information about local government. When the parish government began considering land-use ordinances, I and many others felt we should have been better informed. And then I realized it was my fault – I hadn’t kept up with what was going on. So, my first focus was to video (and make available on my site) the meetings of parish government, town of Franklinton council, city of Bogalusa council, and parish school board. Once started, I added other content: farm programs, military programs, a news page (News Right Now), links, and much more. We invite your readers to check us out at www.mthermonwebtv.com and send us comments through the contact page.

Moore: Where do you house the equipment for this venture?
Miller: The Mt. Hermon Web-TV studio is located in downtown Mt. Hermon in what was Armett Wascom’s Grocery when I was a teenager. However, the building has over the years been a milk distribution facility (in the 1940’s and early 1950’s), a used clothing store, and a beauty shop.

Moore: How do you get your ads?
Miller: I am terrible at selling ads and need help with this part of the venture. I have made personal contact with some businesses and others have called, wanting to advertise. If someone is running for public office and stops by – he or she doesn’t get away without buying an ad!

Moore: Why did you choose to base your operations at Mt. Hermon?
Miller: We live only a mile from the studio. Plus, while broadband Internet service is not widely available in rural Washington Parish, the studio is located in an area where high speed Internet service is provided by AT&T.

Moore: Were you born at Mt. Hermon and schooled there prior to college? Were your parents interested in the field of communications?
Miller: Yes, I am a native of Mt. Hermon and attended Mt. Hermon School until age 13. Our family moved to Franklinton in 1963, and I graduated from FHS in 1968. My parents, Carruth and Junie Miller, had a dairy at Mt. Hermon but after moving to Franklinton, Dad worked for the Town of Franklinton Police Department where he served as Chief for over 20 years. I returned to Mt. Hermon in 1986 and bought the old home place, including the house where I now live and where my Dad was born in 1921.

Moore: Is this web site your sole business? And what did you do prior to establishing the site?
Miller: Yes, this is my only business. I am devoting most of my time (too much of my time) to Mt. Hermon Web-TV. I retired a few years ago from the State of Louisiana, Probation and Parole Division where I served as Director of the Training Academy.

Moore: As a person who obviously has an interest in the growth of Washington Parish, what do you think the parish has to offer retirees and tourists?
Miller: I do have an interest in the growth of Washington Parish in many ways. For instance, I want residents to have job opportunities, improved access to broadband Internet service, and the infrastructure to be maintained. But I resist some change. I find that the first thing some people want to do when they move to Washington Parish is change it! You know, it’s pretty good like it is. Retirees will find Washington Parish to be well-governed, friendly, blessed with beautiful natural resources, and to have many leisure activities. Tourists are welcomed. The Cassidy Park Museums in Bogalusa, The Varnado Museum in Franklinton, and the Washington Parish Tourism Commission are great places for tourists to start as they check out Washington Parish.

Moore: Do you ever fish the Bogue Chitto waters as I mentioned doing in the introduction to this blog? If not, what are your hobbies?
Miller: No, I’m more of a pond fisherman. I did often “tube” down the Bogue Chitto when I was younger. I have a son and granddaughter who kayak and camp overnight on the river. They love it! My most enjoyable pursuit now is being grandpa to Judith, Gabe, Johnny Lynn, and Piper.

Moore: Any plans for other communications enterprises?
Miller: No.

Moore: What do you think of the idea that modern communications and technology are replacing books, concerts, museum visits, and other cultural pursuits that have entertained us in the past?
Miller: It would be a shame if we allowed those cultural pursuits to be replaced. The Internet can be used instead to enhance the things we value. For instance, the Cassidy Park Museums (http://www.museumsofcassidypark.com/about.html ) offer numerous programs, such as “My Story” which features the personal stories from people of our own area to give unique perspective and very local flavor to the times in which they lived. However, those who cannot attend (living out of state/country, for instance) can view the video on our Internet TV site, thereby enhancing the program. Similarly, we should not let attending church services be replaced by watching a church service on television. Watching on television (or on the Internet) is a “next best” alternative to attending a concert, museum or church service in person.

Moore: Thanks for including my blogs on your site and may your “tribe” increase. Speaking of tribes, tell me about your family.
Miller: One of my many blessings is Jo Ann, my wife and partner. Together, we have a blended family of six children and four grandchildren. Thank you very much for allowing me to embed your blog on my site. I enjoy reading it, and I know our readers will also.
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