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Local

Supervisors meetings available online or by phone

Courthouse still closed, but the public may still interact with board business

Brandon Talsma, chairperson of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, listens to department heads during a past meeting. Citizens can now access public board of supervisors meetings remotely through a live stream conference call.
Brandon Talsma, chairperson of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, listens to department heads during a past meeting. Citizens can now access public board of supervisors meetings remotely through a live stream conference call.

Even though the courthouse is closed to the public, citizens may still attend the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meetings by live stream or by phone.

To comply with open meetings law requirements and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, board members will now conduct their morning business meetings using the video and web conferencing software Zoom.

By visiting https://jasper.zoom.us/j/408214207 at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday, citizens of Jasper County may “sit in” on a Zoom conference call and watch the meeting unfold in real-time.

Ryan Eaton, information technology director of Jasper County, said this method will allow the county to hold a meeting with no more than 10 people in person. The Zoom conference would also allow for public input and comments.

“They can basically raise their hand (by clicking on) a little icon, then they can talk,” Eaton said. “Or they can call in, too. Again, it will be muted until they indicate they have something to say. Then I can click ‘em. That way we don’t have 50 people trying to talk over each other.”

State law requires the supervisors provided open access to meetings. Since access to the courthouse has been prohibited, staff have to get creative. Several other governing bodies in the county — like the Newton school board — have used Zoom conferences for their meetings as well.

Brandon Talsma, chairperson of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, told Newton Daily News the live streams of the meeting may not be the most convenient, and he expects there to be growing pains with this new method.

However, the board of supervisors want to adhere with the guidelines beset by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

“We want to follow their advisements,” Talsma said. “We also want to make sure that our county government is transparent and that our citizens have the opportunity to be informed about what is going on and attend our meetings.

“Luckily, in today’s world, we have technology that can help us with that and we are going to try and utilize it.”

Meetings will still be recorded and uploaded online to Vimeo, as usual. These recordings can be found on the “Agenda Center” page of the Jasper County website by clicking the TV icon next to most recent supervisors agenda.

Jasper County officially closed the courthouse doors last week, prohibiting regular public access. Other county departments, like veterans affairs and conservation, are utilizing Zoom conferences for their public meetings.

How to attend Zoom meeting by computer:

If the provided link does not work for whatever reason, citizens may visit www.zoom.us and click on “Join a Meeting” in the upper right-hand corner of the computer screen, or click “Join” if using a mobile device.

From there, Zoom will ask for a meeting ID or a personal link name. The Jasper County Board of Supervisors included the meeting ID code on its agenda: 408 214 207.

How to attend Zoom meeting by phone:

To listen in on the board of supervisors meeting without using the Zoom app or website, citizens are asked to call the long distance number 1-312-626-6799.

Eaton recommended people use their cellphones to call this number.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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