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Council may not meet in person until July

LOCK HAVEN — It’s been months since Lock Haven City Council met in person at City Hall and it may be another month until they do so again.

City Manager Gregory Wilson recommended council not meet in person until July 6, although it could be possible to meet June 15.

“I think part of it is the logistics right now. We actually right now are enjoying a minimum of 28 people physically watching these broadcasts. The typical council meeting has zero attendants,” Wilson said.

He added that several hundred people have watched the recording of meetings in the week following the initial live stream.

“That’s incredible,” he said, thanking Councilman William “Bill” Mincer for suggesting they look into recording meetings.

Wilson said the current recording equipment used when in-person meetings are held isn’t as reliable in terms of sound.

“We have to find a way to continue to broadcast and get everyone on screen while also in council chambers and social distancing. I think if everyone could come to council with a tablet and social distance… we could broadcast in this exact same format while simultaneously meeting in person,” he said.

“I think the public would truly be the main beneficiary of that,” he added.

When going over how it could be possible for council to meet in person and broadcast in a similar format used currently, Wilson gave a few options. This included using the Rebecca Gross Room on the third floor of the Ross Library or the recording studio at Lock Haven University.

“If we were to use the third floor of the library… it is a significantly larger room that we could make accommodations for broadcasting,” he said.

Wilson said if they pushed this through internally, they could potentially meet in person on June 15, but still recommended July to be their goal.

Councilman Richard Morris said he feels the virtual meetings are effective enough for the time being.

“I think we enjoy a kind of level of intimacy and freedom of dialogue that I don’t remember ever having in council chambers. In a sense, if we’re going to put social distancing into a formal room it’s going to be something of a bizarre meeting,” he said.

“If there were to be any delay in going back to council meetings, I personally wouldn’t shed too many tears about that,” he concluded.

Mayor Joel Long also offered his own comments, noting that virtual meetings have been working well.

“I think the only concern would be if there is a lack of effectiveness in the meetings and a feeling of a lack of participation from the public,” he said.

Long agreed with Wilson’s statement that people have been reaching out more to him during meetings virtually.

“I want to get back to “normal” but until then I think this has worked out pretty well,” he said.

Authorities, boards and commissions have also been able to meet virtually, although business has been slow for many.

“The ABCs have always been able to meet virtually if they chose to. To be honest they really haven’t had business come before them,” Wilson said.

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