By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Following a six-month experiment in holding trustee meetings on Wednesdays, initiated at the behest of former Mayor Stacey Bernot, the Carbondale Board of Trustees [BOT] last week voted unanimously to return the meetings to their historical schedule of the second and fourth Tuesday nights of each month.
The change back to Tuesdays was suggested by Trustee A.J. Hobbs, who said at the board’s May 25 meeting that he had supported Bernot’s request back in November 2015, in order to give her the chance to see her kids perform in school-sponsored athletic events.
But Bernot stepped away from her post earlier this month to move out of town with her family, and Hobbs suggested at a recent meeting that a switch back to Tuesday meetings should be considered.
While the others on the board agreed with moving the meetings back to Tuesdays, there were some who indicated they did not feel strongly about the matter, either way it went.
Trustee Katrina Byars, while agreeing that the switch to Wednesdays was made out of respect for Bernot’s desire to meet family obligations, added that the change was made six months ago to give trustees more time at the beginning of each week to read through their packets of material about items coming before the board, which are sent out every Thursday for the meeting the following week.
In recognition of an appeal by Sopris Sun board member Debbie Bruell that the meetings be moved back to Tuesdays, Byars conceded that holding the meetings on Tuesday made it possible for the weekly paper to publish stories about the trustees’ actions the week they are made rather than a week later.
Bruell had earlier pointed out that Wednesday meetings happened too late for articles to be published on the paper’s publication day, Thursday, due to timing constraints involving the paper’s production and printing schedule.
But, Byars added, she felt keeping the meetings on Wednesdays might be helpful to town staffers who, like the ex-mayor, might want to see their school-aged children playing in school sporting events on Tuesdays.
Town manager Jay Harrington, however, told Byars and the other trustees that he had not heard from staff members that a majority of them might prefer the meetings be held on Wednesdays.
Even so, Byars said later in the meeting, she wanted to be sure the board offers “maybe a little bit more room” for trustees and staffers who might want to take Tuesday evenings off to watch school sporting events.
“I feel strongly about taking care of staff in a way of making them feel supported,” she declared, adding, “to me, the Wednesday nights are, I think, more convenient.”
“It doesn’t make much difference one way or the other,” said Trustee Marty Silverstein, echoing Byars’ feeling about accommodating staff members who want to catch their kids’ sports activities on Tuesday nights, but also recognizing The Sopris Sun’s status as Carbondale’s “publication of record” and the value of getting trustee decisions to readers in a timely way.
Trustee Ben Bohmfalk said that in his estimation, holding the meetings on Tuesdays “historically has worked out best” and saw no reason to stick with the Wednesday meeting day.
Acting mayor Dan Richardson, agreeing that flexibility for staff and trustees should be possible, said that nevertheless, “I agree that communication about what happens at these meetings is of paramount importance” and that the Tuesday meeting day helps achieve that goal.
The matter will be on the board’s “consent agenda” for June 8, and the actual switch back to Tuesdays probably will take place in July, according to Harrington.