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County votes to draft letter to governor for virtual meetings

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 55, a part of which allows governments to hold virtual meetings, is set to expire Aug. 29.

Anderson County Commission voted 13-3 to send a letter to the governor asking that he extend that order and allow virtual meetings for the foreseeable future.

District 7 Commissioner Jerry Creasey made a motion in the Aug. 17 meeting to send the letter and noted that it might carry more weight with the governor if it was a unanimous vote. That motion was seconded by District 7 Commissioner Theresa Scott.

Denver Waddell, District 3 commissioner, said there is no reason for County Commission to meet virtually.

“Kids are back in school,” he said. “Our county employees are coming into work.”

Waddell also pointed out the numerous safeguards the county has placed in the courthouse.

Commission passed the measure 13-3 — not unanimously as Creasey had hoped — with Waddell, District 4 Commissioner Shain Vowell and District 8 Commissioner Phil Yager voting against drafting the letter.

Later in the meeting the question about County Commission meetings again came up with a question being asked if there was another location County Commission could hold its monthly meeting.

The answer, after some discussion, was “no.”

But Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager pointed out there was no “penalty” for commissioners who felt unsafe attending monthly meetings.

If a commissioner misses a meeting, it was noted, he can still offer input on issues, but cannot vote — a commissioner has to be present to vote -- unless the governor signs an extension to Executive Order 55 allowing government bodies to hold virtual meetings.