The Jefferson County Commissioners approved a change in meeting times during a Friday morning meeting. The decision came following weeks of discussion and a lack of consensus.

Commissioner David Bramer made a motion to move the Friday morning commission meeting to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The commission already meets once a month at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, Bramer asked about moving the morning meetings to a night schedule for what he called “a selfish reason” and also noted the morning meeting had been a concern voiced by some residents as he campaigned for the seat.

Bramer teaches at Southwestern High School and has a class during the 9 a.m. meeting time, but he also claims night meetings would allow for more public participation.

He said the public wanted to feel more invited to the county government meetings and moving meetings until after work hours would help with that issue.

Commissioner Bobby Little, elected officials, other county employees and a few county residents spoke against the move, with some citing the need for a meeting during Courthouse business hours.

Some said a morning meeting allows people who work on second and third shift to have a chance to attend.

County officials also noted employees who help with record keeping during the meetings would need to take additional comp time during the day to compensate for the after-work meeting.

Bramer said the time needed to be changed if commissioners wanted people to come to all of the meetings. He claimed 60 percent of the population could attend the 5:30 p.m. meeting if they so choose.

Bramer also said people on different shifts or those who work in the Courthouse could call him, and he would find time within 72 hours to talk or meet with them about issues.

Schafer seconded the motion, noting voters who elected Bramer into office wanted him to serve as a full commissioner and attend all meetings.

“I think it’s going to be a burden,” Little said, noting no one mentioned to him they were unhappy with the Friday morning and Thursday afternoon meeting schedule that has been used for the last 20 years or so.

The motion passed 2-1, with Little voting against the measure.

Karl Eaglin, who works in the assessor’s office, questioned why the discussion on meeting times hadn’t been listed on the agenda this time. Eaglin noted the meeting times had been on the agenda twice before so that people could comment on the situation.

“My concern is you’re not the only school teacher who has ever been commissioner,” Eaglin said, noting the time wasn’t changed for them.

Bramer said he has a certain amount of curriculum to cover in a year and he doesn’t just leave his students with a video or free period. In this case, one of his more difficult classes was during the Friday morning meeting time.

“I’ve made it a point in my 13 years of teaching to miss as little school as possible,” Bramer said. “I’m there for the kids.”

The change will begin with the Commissioners’ March 9 meeting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the commissioners’ office on the first floor of the Courthouse.

In other business:

• Aaron Bell with the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District gave a 2016 report.

Bell noted it was a “really exceptional” year for the recycling district with nearly 7 and one-half million pounds of recycling gathered during 2016. Standard recycling items were up nearly 21 percent, he said, and difficult recyclables were up by about 16 percent.

Bell said funding for recycling electronic waste has decreased, but disposal fees increased so the district had to reinstate fees associated with electronics last year. Still, 450,000 pounds of electronics were recycled in 2016.

He did note contamination and illegal dumping issues increased last year, and he hopes to work with local law enforcement to keep those issues from happening this year.

• Elsie Perry-Payne with the Pilot Club requested use of the Courthouse footprint for the biannual Old Court Days events during 2017. The spring Old Court Days will be held May 26 through 28, while the fall event will be held Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 – coinciding with the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art.

Commissioners unanimously approved the request by a vote of 3-0.

• Jim Barnbrook with SBS Portals presented information and a demonstration for a book or document scanner and document management. Barnbrook said the company features options to purchase a document scanner or have someone from the company digitize books or pages for the county.

Barnbrook noted the county’s books – some dating back to the 1800s – need to be preserved in some fashion because pages continue to deteriorate each day.

The books became even more fragile following the Courthouse fire, but mold issues because of the water continue to break down the books.

“It’s not if you’re going to do this, it’s when,” Barnbrook said.

Schafer noted the history of the county contained in the books do need to be preserved, and commissioners will take the presentation under advisement.

• Commissioners appointed Charlie Gilles to the Monroe Township Advisory Board during the meeting.