Douglas County Commission to change meeting time; staff will post audio online

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, left, talks to the county's public works director (not pictured) during a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 at the county courthouse. Also pictured are Commission Chair Michelle Derusseau and Vice Chair Patrick Kelly.

Story updated at 6:51 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019:

The Douglas County Commission is making a few changes in an effort to improve transparency.

The commission will start its meetings at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday, beginning March 6, according to a news release from the county. The time change is to make it easier for the public to attend than its current meeting times of 4 and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

County staff has also started uploading audio recordings of commission meetings online at

“We’ve always had the audio available, and people would request it and we’d give it to them on a jump drive,” said Karrey Britt, the county’s recently hired communications specialist. “But with a new commission, new administrator, new communications person, we’re trying to be more transparent.”

Commission Chair Michelle Derusseau said she thinks the county has always been extremely transparent, as the recordings have been available upon request.

She said she knows “there were always questions about our 4 o’clock meeting time,” and there’s no time that would accommodate everyone’s schedules since shift workers are on the clock at all hours, but the new system will let people listen to the meetings at any time, day or night.

“This just allows for everyone to be able to go back and listen to it if there was an agenda item that they were interested in, or if they’re just trying to keep up,” Derusseau said.

Recordings of the commission’s weekly meetings from Jan. 9, 2019, forward are available at Recordings of meetings prior to that are still available by request.

The commission will have 4 p.m. work sessions as needed to study and discuss projects, but no action will be taken, according to the release.

During the County Commission meeting Wednesday, Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said she hopes to set goals for those work sessions a month at a time and avoid changing plans as much as possible.

“Obviously, if there’s some sort of pressing rising issue that we need to get on, we can do that,” Plinsky told the commission. “But I think our hope is to set these a month at a time, and you all know what’s coming up.”

Plinsky after the meeting noted that having Britt on staff has been helpful for county employees in “just getting the information out there and being a little more outwardly focused on our communication,” and she said it’s great to have somebody to help in that effort.

Britt is the county’s first communications specialist, and she is tasked with providing information to the public. She said in the release that her goal is to provide timely and relevant news to county residents through means including social media, news releases, the county’s website and a new email newsletter.

“Transparency is very important to Douglas County commissioners and staff, and my job is to help achieve that mission,” Britt said in the release.

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