Charlevoix Library Won’t Host Health Department Meetings for Unforeseeable Future

The Charlevoix Library won’t be hosting any Health Department of Northwest Michigan meetings for the foreseeable future after things got heated on Sept. 7.

Charlevoix Library Director Ryan Deery said that meeting posed a risk to patrons and staff.

“It did feel like, both from a pandemic perspective as well as some of that tension and a little bit of hostility, it did feel like an unsafe environment that day,” said Deery.

At their meeting in Antrim County on Tuesday, a couple of board of health members raised concerns they were violating their own by-laws by not having the meeting at their health department office in Charlevoix.

However, Health Officer Lisa Peacock said the board hasn’t been meeting there for quite some time.

“It just wasn’t an issue at that time so as we rewrite the by-laws we’ll make sure that we acknowledge that and make sure the board is comfortable with where we are going to meet and how we’re going to make those changes,” said Peacock.

After hostility at previous meetings, the health department had to make sure everyone is in a safe environment.

“Yesterday was great and involved the state police,” said Peacock. “We did a walkthrough last week, prior to the meeting, to make sure we knew what our plan was going to be and if we did have to exit due to safety reasons or adjourn the meeting or anything like that, how we would do those things.”

The health department has used the Charlevoix Library a few times already, but as of now there’s no plans to hold meetings there again.

“We’re happy to let the health department back when we’re for sure that we can provide a safe environment,” said Deery. “We haven’t talked about what it will take to get there but I think some of it is simply when some of these hot button issues are not the main focus of the meeting.”

The health department is expected to hold their next meeting in Antrim County at the same location.