Miami County health commissioner says he was threatened at Troy council meeting

TROY – Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes gave an update on COVID-19 and efforts to distribute the vaccination Monday before Troy City Council but then left, saying he was uncomfortable in a room where 40-50 audience members were not wearing masks.

Propes also said he was threatened by an audience member as he was leaving the Hobart Arena Bravo Room.

Council President Bill Lutz invited Propes to speak to council and the community.

COVID-19 and masks were the topic of discussion during the past two council meetings after Mayor Robin Oda first was questioned about a sign she placed on City Hall doors that some considered to be anti-mask. She apologized for placing the signs later that week.

At the subsequent council meeting Jan. 19, a crowd showed up, many saying during public comments they were from out of town and were there to support Oda.

“I left because of the unmasked,” Propes said Tuesday morning. “They were very hostile toward me.”

As he was leaving the room, a seated man kept staring at him and said, “You better watch out,” Propes said.

A Troy police captain at the meeting walked Propes out of the room.

Audience members complained later in the meeting that Propes was not there to respond to their questions and points they were trying to make about what they saw as the danger of vaccines and the questionable value of wearing a facial mask.

Propes said he has often receives calls from people who are angry since the pandemic began. They discuss their questions and issues with COVID and government mandates and move on. “When you are dealing with 100,000 people you can’t make everyone happy,” he said.

He received emails from some people following the meeting thanking him for providing information, Propes said.

Lutz said he has no plans to change the way the council meetings are conducted, including the public comment time, despite complaints that many recent speakers live out of town.

“It’s important to me that the doors of council are open, and people can come and speak on topics that are important to them,” he said. “I know that there have been a lot of individuals not from Troy, but these are individuals that may own businesses, they make work in our community, they may be patrons of businesses; while they are not residents, they can still be stakeholders in our community.”

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