The former York County Commission meeting space in the county government building – a former county jail – has been upgraded with better technology and enlarged, making it easier for the public to access meetings either in person or online. Limitations of the former space became apparent during the COVID pandemic, when social distancing was in place. The project was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. Contributed

ALFRED — County residents attending York County Commissioners meetings in person or online can better see and hear what is being discussed in a larger, more welcoming space, county officials say.

The old commissioners meeting room at the York County Government building at 149 Jordan Springs Road (Route 4) in Alfred has been enlarged, refurbished and sports a new audio visual system.

The government building was once York County Jail. Portions of the building have been renovated over time — but the commissioners meeting room, once the former jail gym and kitchen area, hadn’t seen any improvement since 2012, when a hot air heating system and LED lights were installed, said York County Manager Greg Zinser.

York County Commission Chairman Richard Dutremble said the new space and enhanced audio makes attending in person or online better and more inviting for the public.

“It brings out the atmosphere — that people can contribute,” he said.

“I feel it increases the accessibility of our meetings for those tuning in remotely and those testifying through a hybrid system,” said Commissioner Justin Chenette. “As well, it’s easier to hear commissioners and engage with members of the public.”


Zinser said the project stemmed from the COVID pandemic, when it became apparent the space they were using was inadequate.

“It was very important to the commissioners to continue meeting in person,” during the pandemic, said Zinser, which presented logistical challenges. While the room was large enough for commissioners and a few staff members, he noted the public was largely restricted from attending in person, given the COVID regulations at the time. As well, with the county emergency management agency also housed in the building and in full response mode, there was no larger space available.

“The renovation of this room alleviates these issues now and for the future,” said Zinser. Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, the renovations cost about $1.2 million.

The new space incorporates the old, but is nearly three times the size of the former meeting room, is brighter and much more welcoming, said Zinser. “Everything was replaced with new materials.

The room has also been set up with a much higher grade AV system for broadcasting meetings and can accommodate any other two way interactive video meetings in a large setting,” he added.

Custom designed for the space, the speakers have the ability for voice assist — and while not a mic and speaker system meant for large scale voice projection, the system sports internal microphones designed to enhance the voice level of the speaker so that all can clearly hear without echo or annoying feedback or interference, Zinser explained.

It was also designed in such a way that the room and the restrooms across the hall can be segregated from the rest of the building, which means the county can resume its practice of accommodating community groups meeting there, after regular business hours. Outside groups and nonprofits should reach out to Kathy Dumont, assistant to the York County manager at 459-2312.

Commissioner Donna Ring said the new space has a professional flavor.

“I love the set up and acoustics and I can see and hear everyone without having to turn my neck or back to hear individuals speak,” said Ring. “And it’s more inviting and accommodating to the public.”

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