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Why is Sistersville resisting change of meeting venue?

By Staff | Dec 4, 2013

When we called the Sistersville City Building to determine the location of the next council meeting, to be held Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., a city employee who declined to give their identity said the next meeting will be held at the city building.


The city building. This is despite the fact that council voted unanimously during their Nov. 12 meeting to hold the next meeting at either the fire hall or the library.

So why is the meeting still to be held at the cramped and non-handicapped accessible city building? Mayor Ann Doig tells us it is because the decision to change the location was not on the published agenda for the Nov. 12 meeting.

The Open Governmental Meetings Act, also referred to as the Open Meetings Law or Sunshine Law, states, “Agendas must give reasonable notice to the public of what issues will be discussed. Specifically, any matter requiring the governing body to take official action must be listed on the agenda.”

However, it does not appear that changing the location of a meeting is a matter that requires a vote of council. The vote was nice, but not apparently necessary. The section of the City Charter that deals with council meetings says, “The meeting of the Council shall be held at such places in said City, and at such times, as they shall from time to time ordain and appoint. . . “

Sistersville Council has indeed changed the location of previous meetings, such as the Sept. 9 meeting that was expected to be well attended after the resignation of former Mayor Dave Fox.

That change was simply stated on the posted agenda-all as prescribed by law.

So why isn’t next week’s meeting scheduled to be held at a more comfortable and accessible location? Did council not unanimously express their desire that the venue be changed? Whether the vote was valid or not, the move is wanted and possible. What could possibly be the reason for refusing to make the change?

We don’t understand and we’re sure others don’t either. It’s just a building. It’s just a room. The only thing that keeps coming to mind is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “. . . doth protest too much, methinks.”