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Teleconferencing connects officials amid pandemic

Riddle: What do you get when you connect 17 people via the same telephone number?

Answer: A public meeting of the Blair County Convention Center and Sports Facilities Authority.

Even though the convention center is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nine-member authority was able to conduct Wednesday’s business meeting by telephone, where the center’s executive staff members provided reports on the facility and the impact on its schedule and finances.

Solicitor David P. Andrews said he thought holding the meeting via teleconference was better than canceling.

“In these difficult times, it is important for the public to know what is happening with its public bodies,” Andrews said.

Convention Center Executive Director Rocco Alianiello alerted the Mirror, whose reporter regularly attends the meeting, about the teleconference meeting. He also provided reports via email that are generally distributed at the authority’s meeting.

In addition, Andrews directed the authority to advertise the telephone number, providing access to the meeting, in the Mirror’s public notice section on its classified advertising page.

Participants said they thought the meeting went well.

Andrews, at the beginning of the meeting, advised all those taking part to state their name before talking, so others would know who was talking and so the secretary’s minutes would be accurate.

Alianiello said he was appreciative of how everyone avoided speaking at the same time.

Authority member Jamie VanBuren said because of the coronavirus pandemic, he is regularly participating in telecommunication and video communication meetings.

“This meeting,” he said of the authority’s meeting, “went as well as any of the meetings I’ve been in on.”

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