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Hubbard County Board discontinues virtual meetings

County commissioners intend to research what technology to use going forward by talking with peers in neighboring counties.

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The Hubbard County Board sunset its COVID meeting and government center protocols, effective July 1.

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell said this would mean eliminating the use of Zoom for board meetings.

County commissioners intend to research what technology to use going forward by talking with peers in neighboring counties.

“We’ll make a determination, thoughtfully, reflective of the changes in the statute related to public meetings,” Cadwell said at last week’s meeting.

County commissioner Ted Van Kempen inquired if, pre-COVID, they could attend a meeting via phone, like county commissioner Dan Stacey was doing for the current meeting.

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“We were,” Cadwell said, noting that the statute basically says if telephone or other electronic means is used to conduct a meeting, then the public may also participate electronically. He went on to say that a commissioner must give a 10-day notice if attending a regular or special meeting virtually.

County commissioner Char Christenson recalled that, prior to COVID, someone on the agenda could phone into the meeting.

“We can still do that,” Cadwell said.

Christenson pointed out that when she had pneumonia she was able to call in and still participate in the board meeting. “Let’s say, two days prior to the meeting, I get ill. I would not have the option to call in, correct?” she said.

Cadwell said, based on his interpretation of the statute, she could not.

County commissioner Tom Krueger stated that the public also has the right to be wherever the virtual attendee is seated – even if that commissioner is at home, a conference or overseas.

Van Kempen said that it was an unlikely scenario.

Krueger said he favors live streaming for transparency.

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Cadwell said he was checking whether the board can live stream a meeting without archiving the data.

The board voted to sunset the COVID protocols, but discussion will be ongoing about technology that can include the public and commissioners.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Approved the purchase of the iCompass Agenda Management System at $9,500 per year.

  • Approved 12 tracts, valued at $261,802, for the July 12 timber auction.

  • Approved KL Concrete’s quote of $62,500 for concrete work related to the new auger compactor at the north transfer station.

  • Authorized the county assessor to change a secretary/assistant position from part-time to full-time.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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