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Piatt County Board meetings have been held Wednesday mornings since 1972, and will remain so for at least another year. The possibility of changing the 9 a.m. sessions to later in the day or in the evening was voted down by the six-member board at its Dec. 12 meeting.
“I’m a traditionalist,” said board chairman John Lyons when he suggested keeping county board meetings at 9 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month.
“I’m not very much about changing things, and I feel if people want to come and express themselves, they will come in the morning if they have to,” said Lyons. He also felt it was cost-prohibitive to bring in county personnel after hours if meetings are held in the evening.
But newly-elected District No. 1 board member Kathleen Piatt said it is difficult for people with daytime jobs to attend morning sessions.
“With so much of our population being working people, and the (Illinois) Open Meetings Act stating that the time and place of the government meetings should be convenient to the people, I find these times to be inconvenient to most,” said Piatt.
As a test, she suggested the board copy Macon County’s plan – to hold half the full county board meetings during the day, and half at night.
“It doesn’t have to be all the meetings,” said Piatt. “I feel this would be a good test” if some of the meetings were held in the evenings.
Randy Jo Keith suggested 3 p.m. meetings, which he said would be more convenient for the public but avoid overtime for county employees who need to attend.
Board members ended up voting 4-2 to keep the meetings at 9 a.m., with Piatt and Keith voting against the measure.
Zoning Board of Appeals meetings do allow for four evening meetings each year to accommodate the schedule of farmers serving on the committee. Audience member Maureen Holtz said that showed late afternoon or early meetings were possible.
“It seems to me that there is special dispensation given to farmers but not to people who work traditional jobs,” commented Holtz. “As someone who worked a traditional job for 30 years, it was much easier to get out of the office and attend something at 3 o’clock in the afternoon than 9 o’clock in the morning.”
Building and Grounds Committee meetings were also set for 9 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month.