Elkins transitions to online teleconference meetings

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) -- Charlie Friddle, the chairman of the Elkins Finance Committee called the meeting to order Wednesday morning like he does every meeting. But the 9 a.m. meeting was the most abnormal the city has held. Members telecommuted through the Zoom application.

The next meeting the City of Elkins will hold will be Thursday at 7 p.m.

The video conference app saw a massive boost in business after during the pandemic as municipalities and universities are holding meetings through the application.

Elkins officials say they will use the program for all public meetings until they are able to meet again. But the shift in technology poses legal issues.

To avoid complications with public records laws, city officials will not record and keep videos from the meetings.

"It creates a whole additional record keeping burden. If you ever have a glitch and you can not produce a meeting or process a FOIA request, it kind of opens up a whole can of worms," said Sutton Stokes, external affairs specialist for the City of Elkins.

City officials will still allow public comment during meetings. City officials will have to contact the city clerk, Jessica Sutton, at least 30 minutes before the meeting to have their comment read by a city official during the meeting.

Residents are still able to attend the meetings as well, information on how to dial in, or logon to the meetings can be found at http://cityofelkinswv.com/login/

Stokes says officials have not discussed the possibility yet, but the use of the Zoom app could evolve into the city streaming public meetings in the future.