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Closed session linked to Event Center

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Rocky Mount City Council agenda for today includes a request by City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney to go into closed session right after the council concludes regular business.

The agenda shows Small-Toney is citing the need to discuss personnel and attorney-client privilege as the exemptions to the state Open Meetings Law.

The council’s regular meeting is set for 4 p.m. today.

And today apparently will mark the second time this month council members and Small-Toney will meet behind closed doors.

The council went into closed session moments after the start of the Sept. 9 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The council apparently did so to discuss the Rocky Mount Event Center, even though there was no open reference at that time to the downtown facility being the subject.

Committee of the Whole meetings are like council work sessions.

The Sept. 9 meeting started shortly after 5 p.m. and the agenda included a closed session. The agenda also included a list of four items to be dealt with in open session but did not have anything to do with the Event Center.

Small-Toney requested and got a council vote for a closed session, citing attorney-client privilege.

Councilman Richard Joyner led the vote for the closed session, with Councilwoman Lois Watkins absent.

A Telegram reporter covering the council that evening saw men entering the conference room who did not appear to be part of the municipal staff.

Municipal government draft records, made public on Friday, state that Rocky Mount Event Center General Manager Art Thomason was present for the Sept. 9 closed session.

Additionally, the documents state that also present for the closed session included Sports Facilities Management CEO Dev Pathik and Sports Facilities Management Chief Operating Officer Dave Pritchett.

The event center is a client of Sports Facilities Management, which is based in Clearwater, Fla.

The closed session ended shortly before 7 p.m. without the council taking up the list of items for the open part of the session.

That was because the council had to walk to the nearby council chamber to conduct a regular meeting.

City spokeswoman Tameka Kenan-Norman later told the Telegram in an email that after the regular meeting, the council returned to the conference room, briefly went back into an open work session and adjourned without taking any action.

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