Each of the five selectmen and Town Manager Theresa Haskell, far right, sit at their own tables physically distanced apart during the board of selectmen meeting Tuesday at Windsor Town Hall. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

WINDSOR — While officials in many Maine communities have opted to conduct municipal meetings through videoconferencing during the coronavirus pandemic, Windsor selectmen are still meeting the traditional way — in person.

The Board of Selectmen continues to conduct its meetings at historic Windsor Town Hall, where officials say there is enough room for them to spread out — even during public meetings.

Prior to Tuesday, no member of the public had attempted to attend the meetings. Town Manager Theresa Haskell said there is a plan to accommodate those who might want to take part in meetings.

Tom Reed, bottom right, was the only resident attending the board of selectmen meeting Tuesday at Windsor Town Hall. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Under Maine law, and even under executive orders from Gov. Janet Mills, the selectmen’s meetings must be open to the public.

Members of the public can make arrangements with Haskell to listen in on selectmen meetings on her cellphone, which she would put on speaker so others could hear what was being said. Haskell said members of the public could also ask questions of officials over her cellphone.

And if someone wants to meet with selectmen in person or attend a meeting, those can also be done, the manager said, but only if the total number of people at a meeting does not exceed 10, as stipulated in Maine’s stay-safer-at-home executive order.

At most meetings, it is only the five selectmen and Haskell, plus any town department heads who may have something specific to discuss with the board.

Windsor Selectman Rick Gray speaks Tuesday during a meeting at Windsor Town Hall. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Windsor officials considered using the Zoom platform so selectmen could meet remotely. A trial run with the technology, however, did not go as well as hoped.

“We made a stab at it and it didn’t go well,” Ray Bates, chairman of the selectmen, said of Zoom. “Others were able to get in, but I could not connect from afar. It just didn’t work out that well.”

So Haskell said selectmen plan to stick with the current system of meeting in person, with multiple options if members of the public wish to take part.

Bates said one man expressed interest in viewing the meetings by Zoom, but did not seem interested in either coming to the meetings in person or listening by telephone. Bates noted the town is under no obligation to broadcast meetings over Zoom.

Haskell said monitoring a meeting via telephone is a bit like using Zoom, but without the video.

The door to the Town Hall is locked during Tuesday night selectmen’s meetings, but a sign on the door lists a telephone number to call if anyone wishes to be let in.

The Windsor Board of Selectmen starts its meeting Tuesday with the Pledge Of Allegiance at the Town Hall. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Selectmen sit at separate tables at least 6 feet apart in the upstairs meeting space at the Town Hall.

“We have a big space upstairs,” Haskell said.

Haskell and Bates said a town employee made arrangements to listen to Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, the first person to listen in on a meeting since the coronavirus measures were put into place.

In response to the coronavirus, the town is also looking at rescheduling its annual town meeting, from the originally scheduled June 9 and 10 to July 14 and 15. This would allow voting to take place at the polls the same day as state elections, which have been moved to July 14.

If selectmen approve Haskell’s proposal, voting would be at the polls July 14, followed by the open floor portion of the meeting July 15.

Windsor might also hold other town government meetings using the in-person and telephone-monitoring method, including a Planning Board meeting scheduled for May 4 to consider a shoreland zoning application.

It may also be used for a Budget Committee meeting needed to wrap up its review of next year’s proposed town budget.

That could be more difficult, Bates said, because the committee has nine members and an alternate member, and the selectmen usually attend the meetings, too.

If all were to attend, the meeting would exceed the maximum of 10 people allowed at a public gathering.

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