GALION — Galion City Council took a step toward normalcy during Tuesday’s virtual city council meeting broadcast via Zoom and Facebook live.
Councilmember Richard Ivy said it was time to end the virtual meetings and get back to doing city business in person.
“I am going to abstain from any vote going forward that is not held in council chambers,” he said. “We have social distancing, we have masking. It is time for us to get back to having meetings in council chambers. Why are we still not meeting in person?”
Ivy said his frustration stems from the fact that many other segments of society are moving forward by opening back up to the public.
“I just don’t want us to skip a beat as a community,” Ivy continued. ” I want to make certain we’re doing the right thing and making good sound judgment as a council. We need to be dealing with what is, and not what could be.”
The site of the next council meeting has not yet been determined.
However, upcoming committee meetings will be held in person as there is not typically a large public presence, nor do members of the media usually attend those meetings.
Ivy also expressed frustration with the constant barrage from health officials to wear face masks and said he was not in favor of rules and regulations requiring face masks in public places.
Other councilmembers disagreed.
“The wearing of a face mask is simply a gesture of goodwill toward your fellow man,” said Dr. Thomas Fellner, a dentist. “That’s the reason to wear a mask. I am a member of one of the highest risk occupations. I will wear a mask out of consideration of my patients and anyone who will be in attendance.”
Tammy Erlsten-Siclair echoed Fellner’s comments: “I know the masks are inconvenient. But I consider it a small act of kindness, something you can do to help someone else. You’re not doing it to protect yourself. You’re doing it to protect others.”
Council president Carl Watt said he wears a mass to protect himself from others and said he’ll not attend any meetings in person without wearing a mask.
Upcoming committee meetings dates, times and locations will be advertised and all of those meetings are open to the public.
Mayor Tom O’Leary said one there was at least one positive from having meetings via Zoom or Facebook.
“We’ve had more participation than ever and more people watching those meetings online,especially the committee meetings,” he said.
Council members acted on just one piece of legislation Tuesday, passing an ordinance OKing the city’s acceptance of a $30,000 CARES Act grant from the federal government.
“This is $30,000 from the FAA,” said safety-service director Nikki Ward. “We can use it basically for anything related to operations and maintenance of the airport.”
Council members sought — and received — confirmation that the $30,000 is in fact a grant. There is no matching amount needed by the city and it does not have to be paid back.
“I anticipate there will be more of that kind of money coming to us in the future,” O’Leary said. “It’s not money we’ve asked for, but we can certainly make good use of it.”
O’Leary also talked about the progress of the bike trail in Galion. Paving could start this week and then the next step will be seeding some areas to get it all ready for business.
“Then, once we get it inspected, we’ll turn it loose on the city,” he said.
He also said the plan is still for Galion to have fireworks shot off at Heise Park on July 4. There also is a car show scheduled that day at the park and a few other things in the offing. The Pickle Run Festival was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 and health concerns.
“It is hard for me to see what would discourage us from shooting off fireworks,” he said. “We’re still on as of right now.”
And O’Leary lamented the time it is taking for the Charles Street sewer project to be completed. He said the contractor could face fines of $1,000 a day if the work is not done by the end of June.
He said that points out the problem that having to always accept the lowest bid is not the cheapest way to go.
Email Russ Kent@aimmediamidwest.com