Those attending a public meeting should have the opportunity to hear and be heard.

That was the discussion surrounding a request from Decorah's Joan Hagen that the Board of Supervisors ensure there will be a public address system available in the large courtroom of the Winneshiek County Courthouse during open meetings.

"I was at the recent Planning and Zoning public hearing. It was very obvious that we in the audience had difficulty hearing," said Hagen, adding it was "close to being an inadequate and illegal situation.

"Not only could we not hear them (the Planning and Zoning commissioners), at one point they asked us to speak louder. It was clearly not an ideal situation," said Hagen.

Hagen said she wanted to know when the public could "know there will be a public address system every time."

Logsdon said the Board had been researching the subject since they became aware of the public's concern several weeks ago. He said there is money in the county attorney's budget for some upgrades.

"I personally don't think it will be a huge cost. It may be a matter of time before we can get everybody together with the equipment and have them go ahead and do it," said Logsdon.

Supervisor Dean Thompson added it could be used for general court proceedings.

Logsdon promised to pursue the issue, "so people will have the opportunity to communicate as they should in an open meeting. Within a month to six weeks, we will have those arrangements made ... Feel free to keep tabs on it so you know we're doing what we said we'll do."

Hagen also lamented the fact the commissioners don't have nameplates in front of them during the meetings.

"It is hard to know who is speaking," she said.

Janel Pavlovec suggested the tables used by the commissioners be moved closer to the gallery in the courtroom. She also said there were no agendas available for the audience at the public hearing.

Pavlovec's final suggestion was when the Board or commissioners know a specific meeting will not be a large one, it be held in the small courtroom.

"That would be up to the zoning administrator (Tony Phillips) and the Board," said Logsdon.

"I'm just thinking of things that would make citizens feel like it's their meeting," concluded Pavlovec.