Marion Selectmen discuss adapting Town Meeting, make no decision

Mar 26, 2020

MARION — At a video conference meeting on March 26, the Board of Selectmen discussed the possibility of rescheduling the May 15 town meeting due to concerns over coronavirus and strategies using tools like streaming and video conferencing to avoid rescheduling.

McGrail said last he heard there was a bill on the Governor’s desk to allow towns to delay Town Meeting and elections, though he said since Rochester had moved to delay its election to June earlier that day, it may have already passed. Marion’s moderator can currently delay Town Meeting for 30 days, but not the town election. 

McGrail said that he would have a draft of the warrant for Selectmen to review next week. The Finance Committee will also hold a virtual meeting next week for final recommendations on the budget. 

Those meetings would be the last major thing needed before Town Meeting, other than public hearings, which officials are still working on hosting through Zoom. They will hold a first remote public hearing on April 7. 

McGrail said he thinks an abbreviated Town Meeting makes sense, but Selectmen still have the flexibility to make a change if they would like.

Selectmen discussed how to best use the space at Sippican School for other board meetings so that participants can socially distance. Town Administrator Jay McGrail said that a Marion resident has a business where he deals with streaming and reached out to the town to see if he could donate his services, 

The idea would be to have no more than 10 participants per classroom. 

Selectmen also speculated on how coronavirus restrictions would end. 

“This doesn’t seem to be made clear in the news, but I think by Easter is what we’re going to see is officials asking seniors and those with pre-existing conditions to stay home, while younger people return to work,” said Selectman John Waterman. 

His fellow Selectman Norm Hills pointed out that letting those younger than 60 return to work is not risk-free, since “a high percentage of younger people are getting it too, though they may not be dying.”

Selectmen also asked for clarification on a garbage notice that the town had sent out earlier that day, asking residents to bag their trash. 

McGrail said that some people put raw garbage in barrels without bagging it, and he was asked by Waste Management to provide an extra layer with a plastic bag so workers don’t get sick.