Calhoun County Sheriff Bobbie Vickery

Calhoun County Sheriff Bobbie Vickery is all smiles during a teleconference county meeting. (DD Turner/Wave photo)

Convenient but….

That was the reaction for most elected officials toward teleconferencing meetings and conducting business during the shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

And most missed the person-to-person interaction that has been absent in April.

“It’s different, but it is convenient,” said Calhoun County Commissioner David Hall. “I am looking forward to the courthouse getting back to normal.”

Hall noted that it is a great tool, which has enabled the county to conduct business while adhering to the order.

“I am glad we are able to do this for the public, so they are aware of what their local government is doing,” he said.

As a solution to a problem, Point Comfort City Administrator Robby Silva said it was an adjustment, and a resolution on how to conduct a closed session meeting is needed.

“We’re preparing to move forward,” he said, noting that some on the council were not as tech-savvy as other members, and there had been some hiccups. “It’s a matter of finding the right platform that fits our needs and allows us to get our work done.”

On the other hand, Point Comfort Councilmember George Hernandez would have preferred to spread out in the city’s Community Center.

“I prefer upfront,” he said. I don’t like having it on the phone. You really can’t discuss things.”

Issues have been a part of the equation, but most felt the problems had been handled well.

“It’s a good solution for what we are going through,” said Point Comfort Mayor Leslie Machicek. “It’s still a learning curve. We prefer the person to person, but it’s worked okay. It has its benefits.”

Bantering and talking with one another before the meetings had to take a backseat to the new technology.

“It’s really good to know that we can still go on without being together,” said Calhoun County Commissioner Clyde Syma. “ We don’t talk as much, but I look forward to getting back together. It would be hard to do this all the time because person to person really does make a difference.”

Commissioner Vern Lyssy noted it would take some getting used to. “I miss the old way, being in the court with people there. I’m okay with doing it this way. It’s a sacrifice we have to make, but I’m ready to go back.”

“We don’t get to sit and visit before court and talk about what we have going on,” said Commissioner Gary Reese. “I miss that – coming to the court a little early and talking and joking a bit.”

This time around, the IT departments are getting the praise for how well teleconferencing has gone for the various councils and commissions.

“Our IT department has done a wonderful job of setting this up and getting it to function well,” said Reese.

Calhoun Port Authority Commissioner Luis De La Garza noted that the virus has exposed weaknesses in using the tools that haven’t been used before.

De La Garza said the April 8 meeting of the port board went well. “But, everybody needs to work together to help each other become more computer literate. I had to educate myself on using the video.”

But again, the feeling of being together is what most officials missed.

“It’s been very convenient, but I think everybody misses the live commissioners’ court meetings,” said Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer. “You have more interaction.”