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Weirton council able to call in for meetings

SPECIAL SESSION — Weirton Council met in a special session Monday, approving the city’s 2020-21 general fund and coal severance budgets, as well as adopting a resolution to allow electronic participation in council meetings. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — As part of further precautions being taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, Weirton Council has approved a resolution authorizing electronic participation for all council meetings.

The resolution passed with a 7-0 vote during a special meeting held Monday.

According to City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo, the resolution establishes a temporary policy allowing multiple councilmembers to participate in meetings by phone.

“This is an unusual situation,” he explained when first discussing the resolution during a work session last week.

In the past, there have been instances where a single member of council has participated by phone if they were unable to attend the meeting, or if it was needed to reach a quorum.

Upon questioning from Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh as to an end date for the resolution to be in effect, DiBartolomeo explained council would vote on another resolution when members feel it would be appropriate for the program to end.

“It will be up to council to determine,” DiBartolomeo said.

In addition to implementing the resolution, Monday’s meeting also saw the use of Facebook to livestream the proceedings.

“This is our first dry run,” DiBartolomeo said of the use of the social media platform.

Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone noted the livestream is an effort for residents to still see, and possibly interact with, council during the pandemic.

“We want to limit the exposure, following the guidance of the CDC,” she said.

As part of the meeting, Ward 4 Councilman George Ash participated by telephone conference call, as did several of the city’s department heads. All other remaining members of council were in attendance, along with DiBartolomeo, Assistant City Manager DeeAnn Pulliam, Finance Director Diana Smoljanovich, City Attorney Vince Gurrera and City Clerk Kimberly Long, although they were all spaced apart more than usual. Mayor Harold Miller did not attend.

Police Chief Rob Alexander and Acting Fire Chief Kevin Himmelrick also attending, remaining in the gallery area of council chambers.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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