Thursday, October 28, 2021

Sumpter trustees discuss return to in-person meetings

Sumpter Township Board of Trustee meetings will remain electronic, at least until Wayne County health officials are confident there is no threat to the public or officials.

Trustee Don LaPorte called the issue to the attention of his fellow board members during the regular meeting Oct. 12 explaining that he had received several calls from residents asking when the board meetings would again be in-person.

“I told them I would bring it up,” LaPorte said. “I know we have had a COVID issue this week but when can we go back in person?”

“When it is safe to go back,” responded Township Supervisor Tim Bowman. “We had police officers exposed just last week.”

LaPorte said that he explained to the individuals asking that the township continued to have health issues with COVID exposures. He assured the board that he did not reveal any of the names of those who were currently infected or who had been exposed so as “not to violate their privacy.” He said residents were telling him “enough of the Zoom stuff.”

“I'm very eager to get back to in-person meetings,” he said.

Trustee Peggy Morgan said that she also felt the board should go back to in-person meetings. “Schools, everything is open. We can wear masks,” she said.

While Trustee Tim Rush said he, too, had received phone calls asking about in-person meetings and was eager for the change, he added that he felt it was wise for the board members to err on the side of caution.

“Suppose we have an in-person meeting with a topic that people are really interested in and 100 people show up. If only one of them is infected, what do we do then? He added that the number of electronic platforms available to the public to view the Zoom meetings should provide access to anyone interested.

Trustee Matt Oddy suggested that the board members take their cue from Wayne County which, he said, had reported 3,500 confirmed cases of COVID that week. “They won't let you in the county buildings,” he said. He added that even state rest areas are posted requiring all visitors to wear masks due to the health risks.

“I think we should revisit this decision based on the number of reported cases. We went back to in-person meetings and then had to reverse that,” Oddy said. “We've had to shut township hall down four or five times as employees got COVID.”

Township Clerk Esther Hurst said she understood that the board had approved zoom meetings until the end of the year and that she would review the last decision of the board regarding the matter.