Dowagiac City Council meeting canceled, bills still paid

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac’s council chambers on the second floor of city hall lacked the usual discussion of a city council meeting Monday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic weaving its way through Michigan, it was announced on March 17 that the city would cancel its second monthly city council meeting scheduled for Monday at the routine time of 7 p.m.

Following the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan health officials, Mayor Don Lyons made the announcement.

With only one agenda item listed, the council intended to pay its vendors.

“Council had previously enacted a resolution that would allow them to pay bills in case a meeting was postponed or canceled,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “Vendors will still be getting paid.”

Despite the lack of a meeting, the council authorized Anderson and the city treasurer to pay $521,718.91 in bills. A list of the invoices is also posted on the city’s website.

The planning commission, which meets on the first Monday of every month, also canceled its April 6 meeting due to lack of agenda items and the coronavirus.

However, COVID-19 will not deter April 13’s Monday evening city council meeting from taking place.

Anderson said the past few days of his job had been dedicated to learning how the city can still host its public meetings while following social distancing guidelines and keeping the community safe.

The answer: Zoom Video Communications.

Already, local fitness aficionados and workplaces have begun using the group conferencing platform. Now, it is the city of Dowagiac’s turn.

“Under the governor’s new orders, we still have to have a way for public comment to take place,” Anderson said. “Zoom would allow for members of the public to speak to the council as they normally do.”

Through Zoom, attendees can join meetings via webcam, video conferencing camera or through their cell phone.

Anderson said a small group, possibly himself, the mayor and the clerk, would be on-site during the meeting while practicing safe social distancing. The remaining city council members would use zoom to join the meeting.

“There are a couple of folks who maybe haven’t used this technology before,” Anderson said. “We are confident we can get them up to speed.”

The city hopes to use Zoom in the future at other meetings as COVID-19 continues to have an increase of cases in the state of Michigan.

“We still have some testing and practicing to do with Zoom,” Anderson said. “It should be just fine for the foreseeable future.”

On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order for non-essential workers. Beginning Tuesday, Dowagiac’s city hall was closed to all public traffic.

Emergency services, including the Dowagiac Police Department, Dowagiac Fire Department and the Dowagiac Department of Public Service’s essential utility services, are still fully functioning.

The city has continued using the phrase, “Stay Home — Stay Safe — Be Kind,” as it navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berrien County

Emergency order presents challenges to growers, organizations

Buchanan

Buchanan Community Schools hosts virtual town hall with parents

Cassopolis

On the Mantle opens in downtown Cassopolis selling handmade skincare

Cass County

Dowagiac man sentenced to jail following drug overdose, probation violation

Cass County

MEC annexes back into the village limits

Buchanan

Buchanan selects new city manager

Dowagiac

New Dowagiac pastor aims to ‘recapture the heartbeat’ of the Bible

Edwardsburg

Monday Evening club adds plaque to celebratory marker

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg residents open Mosquito Joe franchise

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education votes to start year with distance learning

Education

Niles superintendent hosts outdoor, active meeting to discuss back to school concerns

Berrien County

Vikings assemble backpacks for students

Dowagiac

Dowagiac resident named 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA Queen

Berrien County

Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan to host virtual short film festival Aug. 19

News

Niles nonprofit works to keep evictions out of courts

Berrien County

Berrien County Sheriff’s Office launches internal investigation into video incident

News

Whitmer signs executive directive recognizing, addressing racism as a public health crisis

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer approves $28 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

Berrien County

Arrest, use of force streamed on Facebook Live involved Berrien County deputy

Business

Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce unveils upcoming Same Day Rewards Program

Dowagiac

Renovation work begins on Dowagiac’s China Garden

Berrien County

Berrien, Cass County unofficial election results

Berrien County

Motorcyclist seriously injured in collision with pickup truck

Berrien County

Berrien County services work to connect homeless to housing