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Hagerstown Council training deals with protocol

Kristin B. Aleshire, Penny Nigh, Donald F. Munson and Lewis C. Metzner and David S. Gysberts will not be sworn-in until Monday but they attended an informal meeting Wednesday

November 21, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

It was Government 101 Wednesday afternoon at Hagerstown City Hall as four of the five individuals who were recently elected to Hagerstown City Council as well as Mayor-elect David S. Gysberts got an introduction to the workings of city government.

Kristin B. Aleshire, Penny Nigh, Donald F. Munson and Lewis C. Metzner and Gysberts will not be sworn-in until Monday but they attended an informal meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday as they prepare to get started leading the city.

Incumbent Martin E. Brubaker, who was re-elected, was not present.

Among the topics was a presentation by City Attorney Mark Boyer about how council and Gysberts will have to adhere to Maryland’s open meetings act.

Boyer briefed the group on what constitutes a formal meeting of the group and when they can go into a closed session to discuss issues such as personnel matters.

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Council members and the mayor meet in their formal meetings at City Hall but Metzner asked Boyer what happens if the council members are at another location like a Maryland Municipal League meeting where “real things” are being discussed.

Council members and the mayor must give notice when they are meeting and Boyer said in the case of a Maryland Municipal League meeting, there would probably be some notice of such a meeting.

Boyer said it is important to apply “common sense” in regards to the open meetings act.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to chill a discussion that would be beneficial to the city,” Boyer said.

In opening the meeting, Gysberts said he wanted to have an ice breaker, so he asked those present what kind of ice cream they like.

Aleshire came in after the meeting started and said he does not like ice cream.

“You live right down from the Big Dipper and you don’t eat ice cream?” asked Gysberts.

The group discussed issues important to them, including deterring crime in Hagerstown and the stadium issue.

Brubaker, Aleshire, Nigh, Munson and Metzner won city council seats following the Nov. 6 general election.

One of the issues that was predominant in the lead-up to the election was the city’s proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center.

Nigh and Munson said previously that they were opposed to the project and Aleshire has said he was still undecided.

Gysberts has also said he needs more information before he could take a position on it.

The center is a $37 million project, which includes $25 million in unconfirmed grant funding — $15 million from a private donor and $10 million from the state.

The two unconfirmed sums of money still hang in the balance as do lease negotiations with the Hagerstown Suns. Team officials have considered moving the club if a lease and deal for a new stadium cannot be forged with the city.

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