Software upgrades needed for more public input

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Prairie Township officials are looking into updating software so residents could more easily participate in virtual board meetings.

This issue was again discussed at a recent board meeting.

Currently, residents have to ask questions ahead of the meeting and cannot comment during the meetings. Several residents have voiced frustration about this because they want to listen to the meetings first before asking questions.

Township Administrator Rob Peters has said numerous times that he cannot moderate comments and run the meetings at the same time. However, other townships, like Franklin Township, have had their township administrator moderate the meetings and manage live public comments.

“We hope to have a new setup where folks can ask a question live during the meetings,” Peters said.

Peter has not provided a date of when this software would be introduced. The township has been doing remote meetings since the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Peters also recommended that Facebook comments be turned off during public meetings going forward.

“This takes out the negativity and negative tone,” Peters said.

The board also discussed the rules around having guest speakers attend the meetings.

“We can have no more than 10 people in a room, which is why the meetings aren’t open to residents,” said trustee Cathy Schmelzer. “It is not fair to residents to allow some in and not others, which is why we have the meeting virtually so residents can see the.”

The trustees agreed going forward before another speaker comes in, they will have a discussion first and decide if the speaker should do the presentation virtually or in person.

In other news, the Prairie Township Community Center shared its membership numbers, highlighting the increase in activity.

The center has seen membership increase to 5,635 members. Of those members, 1,783 are township residents and 3,852 are non-residents. To date, approximately 667 memberships have expired and not been renewed; these are mostly attributed to the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, the township still has a 90 percent retention rate, which is above the national average.

From hosting drive-up movies to group fitness and painting classes, the center is slowly bringing back patrons while adhering to the social distancing protocols.

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