MIDDLEBURG — Dave Park has only missed one of Snyder County Board of Commissioners' weekly public meetings since mid-March when they were moved from inside the courthouse to the portico at the building's entrance.

"I want to know what's going on. I feel more comfortable out here than if I had to go inside," said Park who has been attending the county board's Tuesday morning meetings for nearly a year.

Commissioners Joe Kantz, Chuck Steininger and Adam Ewig said holding in-person meetings outside while everyone is masked is their way of assuring the public.

"If we're asking young people to stand at a (register in a store) I think it's essential for us to be here," said Steininger.

Kantz said the lack of reliable broadband in several areas of the county also poses a hindrance to conducting business publicly via phone or computer.

"We're not set up for Zoom and you saw the debacle that happened in another county," said Kantz, referring to hackers who posted nude photos and obscene language to a Zoom public meeting held in early April by Union County officials.

Park, a member of the Joint Rail Authority board, said Zoom meetings he's taken part in have not been orderly. 

"When you have 20 to 30 people in a discussion, it's hard," he said.

Every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. since the coronavirus pandemic began, the commissioners, solicitor Robert Cravitz, County Clerk Tony Phillips and Treasurer Debra Kratzer don a mask and meet in the portico at the courthouse entrance.

The commissioners and Cravitz sit close together at a table and other attendees sit in chairs or on the stone facade around them.

Social distancing is not taking place, a point that Kantz defends because there are usually less than 10 people gathered.

On Tuesday, there were nine people, including Park and Emergency Management Coordinator Derick Shambach. 

A couple of times during the 30-minute meeting the discussion was interrupted by the loud noise of large vehicles traveling along nearby Route 522. A few visitors to the courthouse hesitated before being waved through the meeting and to the front door.

Shambach lauded the commissioners' business conduct.

"It's the right way to do it, to show people 'we're here no matter what,'" he said.

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