Chambers getting new audio system

CHARLESTON (AP) — The state House of Delegates’ chambers is getting an audio upgrade.

The new $77,000 audio system should be installed by the end of next month.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports House officials decided the upgrade was needed after an 8-year-old touch-screen computer that runs the House microphone system crashed during this year’s legislative session. That forced delegates to yell in order to recognize visitors, make floor speeches and debate bills up for passage that day. It also eliminated the House’s online audio broadcast.

“We didn’t want to get into the situation we had last session,” said Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton.

The old sound system was installed in 2004 and is no longer manufactured. Until the computerized board was fixed several days after going out, House staffers were forced to use a temporary public-address system involving cordless microphones that were rushed back and forth between floor debates.

“It was certainly an inconvenience last session,” Boggs said. “I thought everyone handled it very well; we just felt this was something we needed to have upgraded.”

The House has been streaming its floor sessions and committee meetings online since 2010, but Boggs said the old system wasn’t designed for that purpose.

“It was just not of the age and technology that we felt comfortable trying to put a Band-Aid on it,” he said.

The old system also generated heat in the back rooms where equipment was stored, causing malfunctions if left on too long.

Electronic Specialty Co. of Dunbar is installing the new system, which costs less than the $100,000 spent on the previous system.

Boggs said the new system is compatible with audio streaming programs and can be expanded for live video streaming.

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