The Village of Deforest is experiencing starts and stops in the effort to return to pre-COVID normalcy with summer events going forward, but a step back on public meetings.
The DeForest Village Board voted on a pair of event permits for the coming months, first a charity concert organized by Madison-based Karben4 Brewery, and then the returning Dragon Arts Festival, both requesting use of space in and around Fireman’s Park.
The concert, promoted through Karben4’s K4 nation program, is set to feature the band Natty Nation and DJ Pain with proceeds going to Camp Creatability and Common Threads Resource Center, two Madison area organizations geared toward helping autistic individuals and those with behavioral and mental health challenges.
Karben4’s event permit application, covering Sunday, May 16, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., highlights that they, “will use ‘pods’ and pre-sold tickets to help insure social distancing and capacity limits.”
The Dragon Arts Festival permit also addressed potential health safety concerns with a booth layout plan including 10 feet between booths and not having booths directly across from one another. The arts festival, with over 50 scheduled vendors listed, is planned for the Friday and Saturday of June 4-5.
When the question came up of whether organizers would be required to recognized and agree to Dane County health and safety requirements, which was not explicitly part of the application, Village Recreation Supervisor Reese MacAskill explained that such a requirement is part of park rental and so both events would be covered.
With a unanimous vote, the board agreed to the permits.
“The way our cameras and microphones are set up, it is very hard for all of us to be in that room and visible to the public,” said Village President Jane Cahill Wolfgram, telling attendees that she had not been able to see much of Trustee William Landgraf and that newly-elected Trustee Rebecca Witherspoon who were both at DeForest Village Hall.
The board’s other new member, Jim Simpson was attending from home via Zoom, as did Cahill Wolfgram, Colleen Little, Abigail Lowery and Taysheedra Allen. Other village staff attended digitally as well, minus Public Services Director Judd Blau, who was in the Village Hall with Village Clerk LuAnn Leggett, who was tasked with managing cameras and audio for the meeting.
“When we made that motion we did not know what the situation was with the cameras,” said Cahill Wolfgram, “and once staff got at it,they realized there were problems.”
Although Witherspoon was attending in the Village Hall, she explained that earlier she was on the fence about which way to attend, and decided to go in person to get a sense of having the meeting there. Having seen how it panned out in their first trial, Witherspoon deferred to Cahill Wolfgram, saying she would be comfortable going back to online-only if it would be easier.
“It is kind of odd not being able to see everyone here in the room on the video,” said Witherspoon.
Leggett interjected for a point of clarification, explaining that the crux of the matter was that they could not have everyone be six feet apart and also all be on camera, and that if Dance County lifted the distancing requirement, it would no longer be an issue.
“It looks like Lu (Leggett) is putting forth way more much energy to accommodate Zoom and live,” said Allen, joining the agreeing consensus with Lowery, and Little. “And I think that is just an undue burden on her as a resource. I would agree that meeting by Zoom is what we need to do until we can logistically move forward meeting as a cohesive team.”
Little took up the official motion to return to Zoom meetings, until the county requirement of distancing is lifted, seconded by Allen. The motion passed five to one, with Landgraf opposing.