Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer council to meet in an in-person hybrid format

By CHARITY SMITH

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Bessemer — The Bessemer City Council voted unanimously during its regular meeting Monday night to reconvene on April 5 in an in-person/virtual hybrid format. This will be the first time the council has met in person since March 2020.

“We are now able to have meetings with up to 25 people as long as everyone is properly spaced,” City Manager Charly Loper informed the council.

Loper suggested the hybrid meetings, but cautioned “a lot” of the county’s population is still waiting COVID-19 vaccinations. She said that while the health department is doing a “phenomenal” job with vaccinations and that Gogebic County’s vaccination rates are higher than other counties, the county still hasn’t gotten to “that critical mass.”

Loper said she’s getting a lot of interest from committees and sub committees to have meetings in person, adding the online meetings are sometimes hampered by technical issues.

The city purchased the equipment to allow for hybrid meetings a few months ago. The hybrid meetings allow for councilors and other participants to meet in person, while others participate and interact with them online.

Councilman Rob Coleman said that he would like to see some form of a hybrid meeting. He said he did not think there would be an issue with the number of attendees, because council meetings don’t usually have a large turnout.

Coleman suggested the council meet in the auditorium to allow for better spacing.

Mayor Adam Zak expressed concern they wouldn’t have internet capabilities in the auditorium. However Loper said that wouldn’t be an issue, as it had been recently wired for such use.

“I do think it’s time to go to hybrid meetings. This is a good thing for everybody — for those that are more on the cautious side and don’t want to attend in person can still have the capability of videoing in,” Zak said.

Coleman said it is just easier to have a discussion in-person than it is on Zoom. The online meeting “makes it a lot tougher to have a cohesive discussion at times,” said Coleman.

Loper said the hybrid meeting would include a TV screen so the council can view people who are joining remotely and a camera that will “treat everyone in the room as one participant in Zoom.” She said they will be testing the technology and that she would appreciate it if everyone is “understanding and generous.”

The council voted to have everyone attending these hybrid meetings in-person have their temperature checked and fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire. Loper said she will purchase a digital thermometer.

“Screening is important,” said councilman Terry Kryshak.

The council also:

—Discussed the master plan and requested that an article titled “13 Ways to Kill a Community” by Doug Griffiths of 13 Ways Inc. be posted on the city’s website and social media platforms.

—Reworded a motion approved at the March 1 meeting for the Michigan Department of Transportation maintenance contract to include the city’s name, date, and approval for Loper to sign, per MDOT’s request.

—TVoted to have Loper proceed with amending five aspects of the charter, including eliminating the civil service commission.

 
 
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