Evening meetings take center stage again

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In February, members of the Carter County Commission will once again revisit the idea of moving all their meetings to 6 p.m.
Currently, the commission meetings are held on a rotating time schedule, half the meetings are held at 9 a.m. and the other half at 6 p.m.
In October, Commissioner John Lewis requested County Attorney Josh Hardin to draft a resolution to move all the meetings to evenings, saying it was too hard for the general public to attend the morning meetings because of work schedules.
During the November meeting the resolution was brought to the floor for a vote and failed to pass by a margin of 10-11. Two members of the commission were absent during that meeting and one member abstained from the vote.
On Tuesday, during the commissioner comments portion of the meeting, Lewis once again brought up his proposal to switch to all evening meetings, citing the absence of Commissioner Scott Simerly as an example of why the meeting time should be changed.
Simerly works during the daytime, Lewis said, and cannot always attend morning meetings.
“He needs to be here to represent his people,” Lewis added.
Lewis then made a motion to set all the meetings at 6 p.m. and his motion was seconded by Commissioner Ronnie Trivett.
Hardin weighed in on the matter, saying in his opinion the motion should not come from the floor to change the meeting schedule.
“In my opinion that resolution was presented and voted down,” Hardin said. “I think we can re-present it at another meeting. I don’t think this is the proper way to do this.”
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey asked Lewis if he would amend his motion and have it direct Hardin to re-draft the resolution and bring it back before the Commission. Lewis amended his motion and Trivett continued his second by accepting the amendment.
Commissioner Timothy Holdren said he felt several members of the commission had their work schedules affected in the months where meetings were held in the mornings. He said he himself may not always be able to attend morning meetings because of his work obligations.
In response to concerns about work schedules, Commissioner Sonja Culler said the commissioners knew the meeting schedule when they ran for the office.
“This was something you should have thought about before you put your name on the ballot,” she said, adding she had resigned a job she held for six years due to her obligations as a commissioner.
Commissioners Willie Campbell and Buford Peters both said they had been forced to take time off from jobs in order to attend meetings.
When the motion to send the resolution back to the county attorney came up for a vote it passed by a margin of 17-6. Commissioners Peters, Jerry Proffitt, Nancy Brown, Mike Hill, Beth Depew, Trivett, Charles VonCannon, Isaiah Grindstaff, L.C. Tester, Danny Ward, Holdren, Lewis, Larry Miller, Ray Lyons, Robert Carroll, Robert Gobble and Cody McQueen voted in favor of the motion. Commissioners Campbell, Al Meehan, Ross Garland, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Randall Jenkins and Culler cast opposing votes.
The resolution to change the meeting times will be redrafted by Hardin and presented at the February meeting of the Commission.

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