~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline
In response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Greene County board of supervisors held its regular meeting Mar 23 in the closed courthouse with only the supervisors, auditor Jane Heun, and a few others present. The public and media had audio access to the meeting through telephone or computer connection available through zoom.us.
This first historic use of electronic access to the supervisors’ meetings was audio only, though Zoom also provides videoconferencing. “It’s a new experience for all of us,” said chair John Muir.
Michelle Fields, information technologist, and auditor Jane Heun worked with the technology and organized the content.
As each member of the media called in to join the meeting, they were recognized and greeted. Communication was interactive and clear among all participants with media asking questions and able to hear all discussion.
The open forum part of the meeting in which any resident can speak to the board on any topic has been suspended indefinitely since the courthouse is closed to the public and groups of more than 10 people are prohibited in order to slow down the progression of the COVID-19 virus.
The board unanimously approved the Declaration of Local Disaster which will “permit access to local emergency funds, federal and state assistance, and adjustments to policies, procedures, and ordinances to ensure the public’s health and welfare.”
The resolution is retroactive to March 8, 2020, and, according to Resolution 2020-17, “will remain in effect as long as the Governor’s Declaration of Disaster Emergency remains in effect.”
On Jan. 31, the United States Department of Health and Human Services declared COVID-19 to be a national public health emergency. On March 9, the Iowa Kim Reynolds, issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency after several individuals in the state had tested presumptively positive for the virus. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
“To our knowledge, as of today, there is no case of COVID-19 in Greene County,” said Muir.
Muir reported an Emergency Operation Center (EOC) meeting was held electronically last week. Participants were sheriff Jack Williams, Becky Wolf from public health, Dennis Morlan from emergency management, Michelle Fields from information technology, engineer Wade Weiss, Greene County Medical Center safety officer Brandon Hayes, supervisor Pete Bardole, and Muir.
Muir said, “We all worked as a team to be as prepared as we can be.” He said there will be more Zoom electronic meetings. “For the foreseeable future, the courthouse will be closed to the public, but people will be coming to work.”
County attorney Thomas Laehn reported doing “business as usual” with 38 pre-trial conferences. Most of the work in his department is now carried out through telephone and email rather than in-person contact.
Chuck Wenthold, environmental department, reported the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved a 30-day extension for a hog confinement application by Stumpf Finishers, LLC. The proposed site is in Section 32 of Highland Township.
Bid opening for improvements to Drainage District 187 was originally scheduled for the boardroom at this regular meeting but was moved to the Jefferson office of Bolton and Menk, Engineers. The results of the bids will be reported at the next electronic supervisor meeting on Mar 30.
The board unanimously approved an agreement with Midwest Alarm Services to provide various types of security devices and service for the courthouse. Wenthold was given authority to sign the document.
A Full Disclosure Dissemination Agent Agreement with Northland Securities, Inc. was unanimously approved by the board. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules require the county to submit certain information about outstanding bonds that are subject to continuing disclosure to the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) for investor review. This is on an annual basis. The county’s previous year audit is also required to be submitted to EMMA.
The Agent Agreement will let Northland Securities act as the county’s agent in submitting the required information. Northland will charge an annual fee of $1250 for doing this.
The next board of supervisors meeting will also be electronic on Mar 30. A link to join the meeting will be published under the Calendar/agenda tab in GreeneCountyNewsOnline.