Berlin Returning To In-Person Meetings This Month

BERLIN – The town’s boards and commissions will return to in-person meetings this week while the town council is set to resume meeting together March 22.

Elected officials agreed during a Zoom meeting this week to resume in-person meetings once they’d held the March 15 Heron Park listening session, which likely will exceed in-person attendance limits. The council will hold the regularly scheduled March 22 meeting in person at town hall.

“The sooner the better,” Councilman Troy Purnell said.

In November, the council began meeting via Zoom as COVID-19 rates were on the rise. With the positivity rate now below 5% in the state and county, Mayor Zack Tyndall asked the council to share their thoughts regarding resuming meeting in-person. He said one option was to resume live meetings at town hall with limited attendance, as the council did during the fall.

“With this option we’d switch away from being on zoom and it’d go back to being Facebook streamed only,” he said.

The other option he suggested was to continue with Zoom meetings through the budget process.

Council members said they did not mind returning to in-person meetings.

“I think if we have staff, public and boards and commissions in person I think the elected body should probably come back in person as well,” Councilman Jack Orris said.

Tyndall said he recommended resuming in-person meetings April 1 because the town had the Heron Park special meeting March 15. He said that would likely draw more than the 16 people physical distancing allowed in the audience in the council chambers.

“Logistically I think it’s better to keep that Zoom,” he said.

When asked why the town couldn’t use Zoom to broadcast the entire room, staff said it would take specialized equipment the town didn’t have.

While Orris suggested returning to in-person meetings March 22, Councilmembers Dean Burrell and Shaneka Nichols said they didn’t mind waiting until April 1.

“For me the sooner the better,” Councilman Jay Knerr said. “I think we should be doing in-person.”

With Purnell’s agreement, it was decided that the council would meet in-person March 22.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.