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Hancock City Council pays tribute to Givens before getting to work

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette Hancock City Council’s regular March meeting began with a moment of silence for Barry Givens, with the personnel committee moving forward with finding a new city manager. The council also discussed remote attendance, made two re-appointments to the planning commission, and accepted resignation of City Attorney Kevin Mackey.

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council held its regular March meeting on Wednesday evening at City Hall. The city council is Hancock’s only municipal body holding regular meetings during the coronavirus fears.

Over the course of the meeting, which opened with a moment of silence for recently passed city manager Barry Givens, the council discussed their path forward with a number of personnel and meeting-related objectives. The council also said that the personnel committee would move forward with finding a replacement.

At personnel meeting earlier this month that saw John Haeussler rejoin the council after councilor Stephanie Tubman stepped down, the issue of remote attendance came up as councilor Will Lytle attended via digital conferencing platform Zoom. At the time, it was agreed that Lytle be able to attend remotely but not vote remotely as the city council had no procedure in place regarding remote attendance. Councilors agreed to discuss the matter further at the regular meeting.

Moments before the regular meeting, however, Governor Gretchen Whitmer posted an executive order allowing municipalities to conduct meetings via remote attendance without procedure in place as a way to promote local government while embracing social distancing to combat the Corona Virus. The order came just in time as councilors Lytle and Whitney Warstler both attended the meeting remotely and were allowed to vote.

“There’s been a lot of information coming at us with notifications and executive orders,” said mayor Paul LaBine.

Haeussler volunteered to incorporate procedure on remote attendance into a more complete Rules of Procedure.

“I see remote attendance as part of a bigger piece,” said Haeussler. “I think it’s good not only for the council but for the public to potentially see.”

Councilor John Slivon volunteered to help Haeussler begin to draft a document, with LaBine expressing support.

“I think it’s a great idea. Any sort of parliamentary public body should have rules of governance,” said LaBine. “Part of me is like ‘who cares if you’re remote; it’s 2020,’ but it’s good to have procedures in place.”

During the meeting, the council also accepted the resignation of city attorney Kevin Mackey, effective at the end of the month. Mackey has served in the capacity for the last ten years, and the council expressed desire to present him with a plaque in recognition of his service at next month’s meeting. However, clerk, treasurer, and acting city manager Mary Babcock said that the city already has new representation in place with the firm Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Savoy, and Larson. The firm, based in Marquette, has offices on Quincy Street in Hancock.

The meeting also saw the reappointments of Bob Wenc and Devin Leonarduzi to the planning commission for terms expiring in 2022. Wenc is a long-serving member and Leonarduzi is the current chair.

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