Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 3, 2013

Technicality abruptly ends health board meeting

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Board of Health was expecting to hire a new Health Department administrator Monday.

But after electing new officers, approving the minutes of past meetings and going into executive session for 25 minutes to discuss the proposed new administrator, board President Dot Behrns emerged from the executive session room to declare Monday's meeting "null and void." Behrns said the meeting was abruptly called off because the agenda was not posted 48 hours in advance of the meeting at the venue where the meeting was being held — the County Board room on the third floor of the Effingham County Office Building.

Behrns said a special meeting would be called well in advance of the next scheduled meeting in February. The health department has been functioning without an administrator since Kim Esker was fired in October. Longtime department employees Linda Hampton and Shawn Bourland have been running the department on an interim basis.

County Board member Joe Thoele said a person in the audience asked him whether Monday's meeting was in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act because an agenda hadn't been posted at the meeting venue, as well as the health department. Thoele said county board Chairman Jim Niemann told him by telephone that the agenda had to be posted both places.

At that point, Thoele said, he informed Health Board members that they were conducting an illegal meeting under provisions of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The meeting promptly halted.

According to Section 2.02a of the Open Meetings Act, agendas should have been posted at both the health department and county board office.

The act states, "An agenda for each regular meeting shall be posted at the principal office of the public body and at the location where the meeting is to be held at least 48 hours in advance of the holding of the meeting."

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com