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FORT SMITH -- The Fort Smith Board of Directors has taken precautions to be able to practice social distancing after the outbreak of the coronavirus that causes covid-19.

During its regular meeting Tuesday, the board approved an ordinance amending Chapter 2 of the Fort Smith Municipal Code to define the word "present" to include attendance by electronic means, according to a summary of the meeting on the city of Fort Smith website. The directors also approved the ordinance's emergency clause, making the ordinance effective immediately.

With this ordinance, a director can participate electronically in meetings of the Board of Directors, provided that the mayor, city administrator and city clerk are physically present at the place where the board meeting is being held.

"What this will allow the Board of Directors to do is to call in or be on a video feed ... so we do not need to have all nine of us [the directors, mayor and city administrator] sitting up here in rather close quarters," Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken said.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Various other procedures were also temporarily adopted for board meetings through June 30 as a result of this ordinance. They include:

• The public is encouraged to watch the television broadcast or livestreamed internet broadcast of board meetings rather than physically attending them.

• Any member of the public may comment on any business item on the published meeting agenda by delivering a written comment, 200 words or fewer in length, to the city clerk no later than 30 minutes before the meeting starts. These comments will be read at the meeting, and email to cityclerk@fortsmithar.gov is encouraged.

• The previous two provisions do not prohibit actual attendance or comments at the meeting in accordance with the rules and procedures for the board's meetings.

At-Large Position 6 Director Kevin Settle was the one to ask that the ordinance be added to the meeting agenda. This motion was seconded by Ward 3 Director Lavon Morton.

The meeting summary states that Ward 1 Director Keith Lau, who was not physically present at the meeting, participated in it via electronic means immediately after the ordinance was adopted.

Metro on 03/22/2020

Print Headline: Fort Smith officials approve meeting by phone, internet

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