Wednesday, January 26, 2005

County jacks up schedule for meetings

Commission holds barrage of meetings in first two weeks


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

As it works to reshape county government, the newly reorganized Blaine County Commission has set a blistering pace this year that includes meetings almost every day.

That is in stark contrast to recent years when the county commission convened once or, under special circumstances, twice per week to handle the regular workload.

Since Commission Chair Sarah Michael and freshman Commissioner Tom Bowman were sworn in Jan. 10 to join veteran Commissioner Dennis Wright, the political body has held meetings on all but two weekdays.

"We've had a really busy first couple of weeks," Bowman said. "A lot of the time is getting educated. I see that tapering off as I come up to speed more."

Michael put it this way.

"There are a lot of big issues on our plate," she said. "We called a moratorium. We have a limited time frame to act on that, so that's been a major focus of calling extra meetings."

Although the barrage of meetings is part of a transition to new county leadership and is not expected to continue, the commission has decided to maintain at least part of the new momentum.

Effective immediately, the commission will begin meeting every Thursday to finish business left on the table at the week's previous meeting, as well as to meet with county staffers to keep abreast of personnel issues. Also, starting Tuesday, Feb. 22, the commission will begin holding its regular weekly meetings on Tuesdays rather than on Mondays.

The commission unanimously adopted the new meeting schedule at its Monday, Jan. 24, regular meeting.

According to Michael, the Thursday meetings will be "informal and normally not recorded."

"This Thursday meeting will be an opportunity for organizations, like the senior center and the Recreation District, to come in and give presentations," Bowman said. "This kind of opens the line of communication so that we're working together throughout the county."

Michael stressed that the commission will not make decisions at the Thursday meetings.

"Any decision that the board makes will be part of our Monday regular meeting," she said.

Also, the third Thursday of every month will constitute a meeting among the county's full slate of elected officials and department heads. The meetings will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and the first will be on Feb. 17.

In addition to the usual weekly meeting agenda, the county is beginning to issue a weekly calendar of events highlighting an entire week's meetings by all county agencies. The calendar of events will be posted along with meeting agendas at the Old County's Courthouse in Hailey, its adjacent annex and judicial building, as well as at Atkinsons' in Hailey and the Hailey post office. Agendas and the calendar of events will also be available on the county's Website, which should soon be redesigned, at www.blainecounty.org.

On the decision to move the regular commission meeting from Monday to Tuesday, Wright said it will give county staff members more time at the beginning of each week to prepare for the meeting.

Bowman added that the move will also avoid the need to periodically move meetings to Tuesdays every time there is a Monday holiday.




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