The Union Recorder

August 22, 2013

Commissioners talk move outside courthouse

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County citizens could soon have extra chances to meet eye-to-eye with County Commissioners.

The board’s consensus during Tuesday’s work session sees moving a regular meeting out into the community once per quarter as a viable and necessary move.

Commissioner Henry Craig, District 4, opened the discussion. Craig said there are rules to follow, but a community-based board meeting is permissible.

“I’m for it. It’s a way to get more people involved,” Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland, District 5, said. “If we go out to a fire station or something like that, maybe people will come down and see what’s going on instead of coming downtown. We need to get back out in the public.”

Commissioner Sammy Hall, District 3, said a change in venue might not translate to a large crowd.

“If you go to my end of the county, people on the north end of the county have to go 20 something miles. They don’t come 10 miles to come to the meeting now,” Hall said. “It’s hard for us to draw a crowd unless people are interested in whatever topic we have on the table.”

Westmoreland and Craig said it wouldn’t hurt to try community meetings on a district rotation.

County staff would set up the logistics as far as equipment to run the meeting efficiently. 

Commissioner Tommy French, District 2, said the board must consider all the factors including staffing and possible security.

Resident Janice Westmoreland, wife of the District 5 commissioner, spoke favorably on the community trips.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. Until you try it, you don’t understand how important it is for you guys to be willing to go to them instead of them coming (to the courthouse),” she said Tuesday.

Retired Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan commented as well.

“Perhaps this is a way of letting other people know about what happens at a commission meeting, and thereby encourage their interest to participate in the future by coming here. Right now as I see it, it’s apathy and ignorance, and perhaps this is a way of addressing that,” Boylan said.

County Attorney David McRee said these meetings don’t lawfully require security checkpoints like the courthouse. 

“It’d be up to you what security requirements you’d like to establish for a meeting away from the courthouse,” McRee said.

More discussion follows for the county’s possible quarterly fire station meetings.

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