CANTON — Although plans for reopening St. Lawrence County departments are being assembled, county legislators have decided they will continue to meet virtually, tentatively until July, and the public will have the opportunity to give comment, now via email.
The decision came during the May 18 county Finance Committee meeting, while Administrator Ruth A. Doyle was giving her update to the legislators.
She said the reopening plans for county departments will also include physical locations, modifications, some of which began this past week.
There is no meeting Monday, in observation of Memorial Day, but Mrs. Doyle told lawmakers she wanted to give them the opportunity to discuss their interest to continue holding Zoom meetings or to resume in person meetings.
“Now I would remind you, at this time, that county government is on hold and is in the status we’re currently in until at least Thursday, May 28, or by advice of the governor or executive order,” Mrs. Doyle said. “So I just wanted to have an opportunity to take feedback and perhaps make a determination, at least for the June board meeting, how the group would like to meet. Currently the decision has been made, up until tonight’s meeting.”
Legislator Rita E. Curran, R-Massena, was the lone voice who called for the legislative body to reconvene in their legislative chambers for their next meeting.
“I think that it’s at a point that we could get back to the boardroom, in person, with some social distancing and a mask, if people want,” Ms. Curran said. “I think that people would like to see some sense of normalcy return. If nothing, we would maybe give them a little bit of hope that things can get back to some sort of normal at some time.”
Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena, said he feels “just the opposite,” which began an echo effect by fellow lawmakers.
“I think that we are able to accomplish everything that we need to do at this time. I am eager to get back in person, but as we do encourage folks to try to continue to separate themselves,” he said. “I don’t think there is any need for us to reconvene at this point.”
Legislative Chairman Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, and Nicole A. Terminelli, D-Massena, each added that May 28 was rapidly approaching and that for planning purposes it would be best to hold off on gathering in person.
“I think it gives very little notice to the public, very little note to everybody that deals with the board by setting up to come back in person for June,” Mr. Lightfoot said. “While I agree 110 percent that I certainly think the board operates a little more efficiently when we are all together in the same room, I don’t want to send the wrong message to people by jumping on this at the first opportunity that we have.”
He said the board should revisit considering the meeting in person again at the end of June.
“Another month, as painful as it may be, isn’t going to kill us,” he said.
Mrs. Doyle said in light of the decision there has been a structured public comment opportunity via email.
“As you know, with the rush in March to start this meeting environment, and then continue in April, we continue to look at safe environments for public comments and to that end, we would like to provide an email,” Mrs. Doyle said. “And in that way we can accept emails that meet community standards through file share by short video, through Dropbox or Google Drive or those types of file shares.”
That email address is email@example.com.
She said if the county could receive those public comments by May 28, that would allow us to make sure it is in a file format that we could share with you, that would also allow, by email receipt St. Lawrence County’s Assistant Administrator Dylan Soper to go back and work to make sure it is something that we can make work over Zoom.