Members of next city council meet

May 29, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown's next city council won't be sworn in until Monday, but it met informally Friday to lay the groundwork for the next four years.

Two sitting council members, the three elected last week and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II chatted for about 30 minutes in Bruchey's office at City Hall.

In last week's general election, incumbent council members Lewis C. Metzner and Martin E. Brubaker won four-year terms.

City voters also chose two new council members -- Forrest Easton and Ashley C. Haywood -- and returned former Mayor and Councilman William M. Breichner to the council.

Easton, Haywood and Breichner will fill the seats held by Penny M. Nigh, Kelly S. Cromer and Alesia D. Parson-McBean, all of whom lost in a Democratic primary.


Bruchey, who won a four-year term as mayor last week, and the next council will be sworn in at City Hall on Monday in a ceremony scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

Some issues that came up at Friday's meeting were straightforward, such as whether to use Robert's Rules of Order for meetings and whether to continue meeting on Tuesdays. They decided "yes" for both.

Part of the discussion was on broader ideas.

Bruchey asked the current and incoming council members to make, by the end of June, a list of their top priorities for the coming four years.

Haywood, who owns a downtown coffee shop, suggested the council create a strategic plan for the city, similar to a business plan.

Metzner said the mayor and council might want to plan one or more retreats to work on the idea.

Metzner also urged his colleagues to take a different approach to the "council comments" during meetings.

He said they should avoid using that time to air complaints and to question staff members on topics for which they might not be prepared.

"It would be nice to try to accentuate the positive," Metzner said.

Haywood and Easton received thick binders containing the city's ordinances.

Someone joked that Breichner -- whose service with the city as mayor, councilman and administrator goes back decades -- didn't need a copy because he wrote the book.

The start of the meeting was delayed when Metzner went back to his West Washington Street law office, where firefighters were responding to a fire call. Metzner said after the meeting that smoke was coming from a light ballast in his law office, but it was stopped before a fire started.

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