SEBRING — Without a doubt, social media has changed the way we communicate and interact (or not) with each other.

The good part about social media is keeping up with the grandkids who live far away. The bad part about social media is keeping up with the Jones’, who may not live so far away. We definitely get a glimpse inside each other’s lives. Long gone are the Fireside Chats in the vein of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Enter Community Chats — open and honest, live chats about issues that matter to our community the most. Business and community leaders and experts in their industries will field questions and provide answers to our readers and followers.

The Highlands News-Sun’s first live chat will include Jenny Cheek, general manager of Lakeshore Mall. Highlands News-Sun Publisher Tim Smolarick will be moderating the event on the Highlands News-Sun Facebook page at 7 p.m. today (Thursday). While Smolarick and Cheek are reading and answering questions, viewers/readers will be able to post questions in the “comment” sections or private message the questions.

“It’s good for the public to see the people who make decisions that affect our community,” Smolarick said.

If viewers know they are unable to watch the event live, questions can be emailed to prior to the live chat.

The chats were conceived from a discussion of improvements to Lakeshore Mall, which were heavily debated on Facebook. It seemed everyone from teens to senior citizens had an opinion on what was needed at the mall.

“It’s good to bring topics of concern into a tempered atmosphere,” Smolarick said. “What we seek is to get facts about issues the community thinks are important.”

The Highlands News-Sun will be periodically offering up a live platform on social media to reach an audience that is interested in a specific topic.

For more information, call 863-385-6155.


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