Commissioner complains public can't hear some speakers at county meetings
Some county residents are disenfranchised by soft speakers at meetings, according to one commissioner.
“I was talking to a somebody who enjoys coming to the meetings, but has said to me he won’t be coming anymore because he can’t hear anything, the way the backs are turned,” commissioner Dianne Novak said when she raised the concern during Monday’s commission meeting.
Commission meetings run with elected officials sitting at a large table facing public seating, but speakers presenting official business sit at the table facing commissioners — with their backs to the public.
Novak suggested speakers should stand at an unused lectern, but county clerk Tina Spencer said microphones may be a better option.
“There are some people who really are disenfranchised and can’t hear, so I think we really need to consider that,” Novak said.
County resident Tom Britain said soft-spoken Sheriff Rob Craft is one of the more difficult speakers for the public to hear.
Later in the meeting, as Rebecca Wingfield presented cost changes at the register of deed’s office, commission chairman Randy Dallke asked members of the public if they could hear. Gary Williams said he could not, so Wingfield stood up, turned around, and repeated her report.
A public hearing on a wind farm project was moved to the courtroom, which also had microphones, to accommodate a crowd too large for commission chambers. Attendees had spilled out of the room into the hallway.
No other action was taken at the meeting to improve acoustics.
During county attorney Courtney Boehm’s report, Dallke asked her about a reported conflict with prosecuting a case.
Minutes from the Oct. 31 meeting say that Boehm’s husband, Hillsboro attorney Josh Boehm, was appointed as a special prosecutor in two county cases. No conflict is specified.
Boehm said she had a time conflict and was double booked, and her husband did not charge the county for his time.
“Being a one-attorney office, that’s a problem that comes up,” she said. “I don’t have anyone to help me cover cases.”
Boehm is the only attorney in the county attorney’s office, but commissioners hired former county attorney Susan Robson as county counselor earlier this year.
Robson covered for Boehm in court during her scheduled time on the agenda.
In other action:
- Local elections had 30 percent voter participation, up from about 13 percent in the previous two local elections, Spencer said. There were also only a few fictitious characters put on ballots as write-ins.
- Commissioners met in closed session for 5 minutes under the personnel exemption before approving leave for two employees under the Family Medical Leave Act.
- Minutes from the last meeting were approved against Novak’s objection. She argued that minutes are longer than required. Commissioners previously directed Spencer to trim her more detailed record of meetings.
- A part-time EMT was hired at $12 an hour.
- Commissioners approved a bond resolution of $202,000 for emergency radio purchases, with 3.375 percent interest until 2024.
- After hearing insurance presentations from The Insurance Center and Kansas County Association MultiLine Pool, commissioners will decide whether or not to move insurance coverage to a pool at a later meeting.
- The transfer station will close the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Saturday before Christmas at Bud Druse’s request to allow employees to have a longer holiday vacation.
Last modified Nov. 15, 2017