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Diversity committee laying groundwork

MAKING PROGRESS — The Jefferson County Diversity and Inclusion Committee held its second meeting, this time inside the community room of the Jefferson County Tower, continuing to discuss forming bylaws and setting goals. -- Andrew Grimm

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Diversity and Inclusion Committee spent around an hour discussing goals and hashing out ideas for the its bylaws on July 15.

It was the second meeting of the newly formed, 12-member committee, this time taking place in the community room inside the Jefferson County Tower.

Dunrick Yetts, who is the president of Black River Pumping Services, prepared a draft of bylaws since the last meeting that members of the committee reviewed and discussed for much of the meeting.

A move was made to form a bylaw committee, consisting of Yetts, Commissioner Thomas Graham, Jefferson County Department of Job and Family Services Human Resources Administrator Matt Kendall and interim Wintersville Mayor Robert Martin to continue hashing out the bylaws before the next meeting.

“I’m very excited by the work that’s been done between this meeting and the last meeting,” Commissioner Dave Maple said.

One of the first areas of discussion on the proposed bylaws was a proposal to have the chair of the committee serve a three-year term.

The committee decided that should instead be a one-year term, and that term lengths for committee members should be staggered.

Maple brought up a possible need for an attendance requirement, which Martin suggested should be a member cannot have more than three consecutive unexcused absences.

The proposed bylaws had a quorum set to be two-thirds of the voting members present, the group deciding that was too high of a number.

The committee consists of 12 voting members (Chamber of Commerce President Tricia Maple-Damewood is an ad hoc member who does not vote), which would require at least nine members to be present under the proposal.

Commissioner Tony Morelli suggested making a quorum a simple majority, or seven members.

It was also decided that a public participation policy should be included in the final bylaws.

Policies similar to that of the Jefferson County Commissioners and Steubenville City Council were discussed.

It was decided that public participants should be required to sign up in advance, providing their name, address and topic they wish to discuss so members of the committee can prepare for the discussion.

There was some back and forth on how a person should be able to sign up, with a debate whether or not they should have to fill out a form in the courthouse, as they can for a commissioners meeting or if they can call the chair and sign up.

Morelli pointed out the purpose of the committee is to hear from the under-served populations, so it should not be made difficult to sign up to speak.

“We have the vice president of the United States saying a lot of people can’t find a place to make a copy,” he said. “I’m thinking that people that might want to speak might not have access to go fill something out.”

A portion of the bylaws pertaining to suspending or removing a member based on allegations against them for things outside of the committee also was a topic of discussion, with concerns about the language used and the fact that some members work for large companies or organizations that receive complaints frequently.

Maple reminded the members that, by the Ohio Revised Code, the committee would make a recommendation for someone being removed, but the action would come from the commissioners.

Forming a mission statement and declaring goals also were discussed, with two potential mission statements were reviewed.

At the next meeting, a statement will be chosen and each member is asked to bring goals, which Martin suggested can change or be added to as they reach them.

Maple also suggested the meeting agendas include a time slot to “go around the table” and hear from each member in regards to concerns or things that they want to see addressed.

It also was decided the committee will meet on the third Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m., putting the next meeting on Aug. 19.

“Just in a couple meetings I’m impressed, I really am,” Morelli said. “I see everybody showing up and participating it proves that we’re here for a good reason and people really have their hearts are in it.”

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