Meetings going online thanks to COVID-19 restrictions

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  • Meeting notices must be given in advance, even if the meetings will be broadcast live online.
    Meeting notices must be given in advance, even if the meetings will be broadcast live online.
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   Government meetings are going digital in the near future to ensure rules for social distancing are maintained amid the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

   The upcoming Demorest meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday will be live-streamed on the City of Demorest Facebook page.

   According to a city press release, Demorest residents will have the opportunity to participate in the meeting and submit comments and questions by the following methods:

   • Emails to office@cityofdemorest.org;

   • Comments on City of Demorest Facebook page;

   • Calls during the meeting to Demorest phone line (number to be published on Facebook just prior to meeting time).

   Habersham County announced Wednesday that all Board of Commissioners meetings through and including their next scheduled regular meeting on Monday, April 20, will be held via teleconference, unless restrictions are eased before then. Dial-in information will be available on the county’s web site at habershamga.com.

   The commissioners are set to meet with the Habersham County Hospital Authority on Wednesday, April 8, in what will largely be a closed-session meeting, possibly the culmination of three other closed meetings the two bodies have had in various forms lately. County Manager Phil Sutton said details were still being worked out as to whether the boards will be in separate rooms or the same one for that meeting, and he added that a vote could take place after the executive session.

   The county pledged to make public notices and agendas available under the “Be in the Know” section on its web site.

   Cornelia has moved its city commission meeting back to Tuesday, April 21, and is planning to meet at the old city hall building at 181 Larkin St. But that meeting, too, may be broadcast live online if rules are still in place the prohibit large gatherings.

   “When the public is physically excluded from the meeting room, it is mandatory that some means be used and notice given in advance, so that the public can simultaneously hear or see and hear the meeting,” Georgia Press Association attorney David Hudson said. 

   “These may include providing an address for online access, broadcasting the meeting on a government web site, provide a call-in number for the public to listen to the meeting, or broadcast the meeting in another room in the building.”

   Hudson added that “Governments must provide notice and agenda to the newspaper of special or emergency meetings, and provide a fax number or email address.”

   Baldwin City Council allowed members of the media to call in on speaker phone during its meeting Monday night.

   Habersham County’s Airport Authority meeting for April 6 was cancelled entirely, with May 4 set as the next meeting date.