Board nixes new request to partially open meetings

No additional spectators, even those addressing the commissioners, will be allowed in county commissioners meetings for the foreseeable future.
The commissioners voted down a request by Commissioner Ricky Bullard to at least open the board meetings to those who have business on the agenda.
“Our attorney said we could do whatever we wanted to,” Bullard said, referring to the exception to the governor’s executive order that allows elected bodies to modify COVID-19 guidelines for gatherings.
Commissioner James Prevatte was emphatic that the board stay with the decision made at the last meeting, when Bullard asked the commissioners to approve having a limited number of spectators in the chambers.
Commission Chair Edwin Russ said that he wasn’t aware that any county employees on the agenda were in attendance Tuesday.
“I don’t think we have any here,” Russ said.
“Yes, we do,” Bullard shot back, referring to Sheriff Jody Greene and Chief Deputy Aaron Herring. When Prevatte urged the board to continue the current policy of online only meetings, Bullard asked Count Attorney Amanda Prince if the board is required to keep its ten-person only rule. Prince said the board can vote to reopen the meetings, if the board wishes to do so.
“We already decided what we were going to do,” Prevatte said.
Bullard made a motion to open the meetings to department heads and others on the agenda, and received a second from Commissioner Jerome MacMillan. Prevatte then made a substitute motion, with a second by Commissioner Trent Burroughs, to keep occupancy of the room limited to ten. The substitute measure passed, with MacMillan and Bullard voting against it.
Commissioners meetings are currently broadcast on YouTube. Persons on the agenda submit their remarks in writing, and generally answer questions from the board by text message or email during the discussion. Public comments are allowed by email, telephone or written letter.

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About Jefferson Weaver 378 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].