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Stanford council meetings shift to library in April

The Stanford City Council voted 4-0 last week to change the date and location of its regular meetings.

Beginning in April, the council now plans to meet at the Lincoln County Public Library, at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The council had been meeting at 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday at the historic L&N Depot building.

The council voted on a first reading of the change back in August, but a second reading was tabled until March 5.

Officials acknowledged at Thursday’s meeting that one council member, Ella Mae Curlis, had said the new date did not work with her schedule.

Curlis, who was not in attendance at the meeting, said she has a “commitment” on the second Thursday of every month that gets in the way, council member Dalton Miller said.

Stanford Council Member Peggy Hester talks about the value of moving council meetings to the public library during Thursday’s meeting. (Photo by Ben Kleppinger)

“I just don’t think we can base our decision on moving it on one person’s commitment. I don’t know what the commitment is,” council member Peggy Hester said. “I tried to get that out of her, but I didn’t get (a clear answer). … If that’s the only Thursday we can meet, she may have to decide whether she wants to do this or do the other.”

Council members said the move to the library is necessary because the L&N Depot space is not conducive to good meetings, has limited seating for the public, and doesn’t provide good access to technology. But the library also has a very full schedule, with many organizations already utilizing its spaces. The space that would work for the council is already reserved on the first Thursday of every month for a veterans group, and it’s also reserved every fourth Thursday. There was some discussion of whether every third Thursday could work. But some officials expressed concern over how late in the month that could push things, and how it could knock the council out of sync with other important meetings such as Planning and Zoning.

Hester said Curlis wasn’t in attendance at Thursday’s meeting because she was in Florida; Mayor Scottie Ernst said Curlis couldn’t video-conference in for the meeting because she was on a boat without cell phone service.

“We’re all here and we need to make a decision,” Hester said. “… We don’t have an appropriate meeting place here … I think that Ella Mae will probably come around and make a change and be at the meetings (at the library).”

Ernst noted the cost to fix up the L&N Depot building has been estimated at as much as $22,000, and constituents have made it clear to the council they don’t want the city spending that kind of money to make the upgrades.

Hester said she thinks once the council moves its meetings, there’s the potential for more attendance and community involvement. “It can be discouraging to sit in the back” of the l&N Depot and not be able to hear or understand what is going on, she said.

“We’ve got a perfect place” in the library, she said. “It’s not going to suit everybody, but this place doesn’t suit everybody either.”

Hester motioned for a second reading of the date and location change; council member Sarah Givens seconded. Hester, Givens and council member Ronnie Deatherage voted in favor of the motion; Miller paused before saying he would vote “yes, with hesitation.”

Ernst said the move to the library comes with plans to potentially have council members use iPads.

“That ought to soften it for Ella Mae,” Hester said. “She’s been wanting to get those.”

Council member Naren James was also absent from Thursday’s meeting.

 

IF YOU GO

The Stanford City Council’s first meeting on its new day and at its new location will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Lincoln County Public Library.