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New councilmen seated in Barnesville

BARNESVILLE — Two new members were sworn in to their seats on Barnesville Village Council last week and quickly sought to increase transparency and disclosure for the governing body.

Steven Hill, who previously served on council for 11 months in 2020 after a successful write-in campaign before he resigned, along with Brian Yarnall, took the seats previously occupied by Jamie Betts and former council president Scott Gallagher.

During the Jan. 10 meeting, Yarnall made a motion that the minutes of council meetings and the village administrator’s project update report be posted and retained on the village’s website for one year and that job vacancies and bid advertisements be posted there as well.

Councilman Terry McCort expressed concern that the project update often contains “sensitive information” and therefore was not intended for public viewing.

When Yarnall asked if the report was “confidential,” Village Administrator Roger Deal, who is responsible for the content of the report in question, responded. He cited easement negotiations with property owners as information that keeps the report from being public on legal grounds.

Deal said he could prepare the report without that information but said council members could be missing out on important details as a result.

Yarnall said he felt that 80 to 90 percent of the report would be appropriate for the public to see, while Hill emphasized that council meetings are subject to public scrutiny along with the status of the various village projects detailed in the report.

He said legally sensitive discussions should be held in executive session.

Yarnall concluded that more discussion on the matter would be needed before acting and formally withdrew his motion.

Yarnall asked Fire Chief Tim Hall and Police Chief Rocky Sirianni if they could submit a monthly activity report for their respective departments and both said they would.

Yarnall asked Deal if the village had incurred any expenses while acting to abate dilapidated structures in the village last year. Deal responded that he did not believe so, while Hall said he believed the village had in 2020 but not in 2021.

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