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Sistersville council meeting will be held at city building

City officials say vote to move meeting was not on agenda, thus not official

December 4, 2013
Tyler Star News

At the Nov. 12 Sistersville Council meeting, in which many citizens had to stand or occupy the hallway due to a lack of seating and space in council chambers, council unanimously approved a motion to move their next meeting to either the Sistersville Public Library or the Sistersville Fire Hall.

"I will leave it up to the council," said Mayor Doig prior to the vote.

On Monday, Dec. 2, when the Tyler Star News called City Hall to find out where the next meeting is planned, a city employee who refused to give her name said the next meeting would take place in City Hall on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Because the motion to move the meeting was not "a legitimate line item on the agenda", she said that the next meeting will not be moved to another location.

When the Star News contacted Mayor Doig for further questions pertaining to this matter, she concurred with the city employee.

"They can't vote," she said of council. "It wasn't on the agenda."

The Star News then asked about council's vote at the Oct. 15 meeting to accept the resignation of Councilman Jason Hood, an action not listed as a clear item on the posted agenda.

"You can accept a resignation," said Mayor Doig. "You can do that without it being on the agenda."

When asked how the city was able to hold the Sept. 9 meeting, in which Doig was appointed mayor, at the Sistersville Fire Hall without it being posted on a prior agenda or voted on by council, she said that the move to the fire hall had been voted on by council. When asked when that vote took place, Mayor Doig said she could not recall when.

A review of meeting agendas prior to the Sept. 9 meeting reveals that there were no items on those agendas concerning a change of location. Furthermore, Councilman Bill Rice explained that the move from Sistersville City Hall to the Sistersville Fire Hall on Sept. 9 did not come about by vote. Instead, he said that he and Councilman Mitch Corley had expressed interest in changing the location and it was agreed upon with no vote.

State officials have gone on the record with the Star News that, due to regulations put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the city should move its meetings from City Hall to a place accommodating to those with disabilities. Communications Director Beth Ryan of the W.Va. Attorney General's Office conveyed an attorney's opinion to the Star News that the city could be setting itself up for a complaint with the Human Rights Commission if a person who has a disability is denied access.

W.Va. ADA Coordinator Kim Knuckles said that Title 3 of ADA maintains that a governing body must provide "reasonable accommodation", even if it means installing a temporary ramp.

"If they're having town meetings there, it needs to be accessible," she said. "Period."

The ADA regulations were brought to the city's attention at the Nov. 12 meeting.

 
 
 

 

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