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County Board extends emergency declaration

By Kendra Hennis 
The monthly meeting of the Douglas County Board was called to order at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Board member Phillip Morris was absent from the meeting. 

In their old business section, the board voted to approve resolution 20-R-20, an extension of the  emergency declaration due to COVID-19 for thirty more days. The state of emergency was declared in the county on March 18, 2020. The declaration allows Board Chairman Don Munson to have authorization to sign documents and approve finances as necessary without the need to call an emergency meeting. The declaration also allows the board to continue to live-stream their meetings on Zoom while still being within the requirements of the  Open Meetings Act. 

The board then approved the personnel policy agreement. This allowed them to clean up language in the policy as recommended by the Planning, Legal, and Management subcommittee and Labor Attorney Lorna Geiler. On the topic of the policy, Virginia Wade of the Douglas County Health Board came to talk about her concerns. She explained that currently 98 percent of the work at the Douglas County Health Department is about COVID-19. She thanked the staff at the health department and said that the county was very blessed to have such a dedicated staff. She also expressed that more staff were needed for all of the work that was needing to be completed right now, especially with school getting ready to start. She also said that she would like the board to consider not making all of the staff at the health department’s vacation time to not have to be done in the beginning of the year due to fear about what will happen in January and February when there are more cases of sickness and the flu. 

The board also discussed many topics involving the Douglas County engineer and engineering services. The first approval was for preliminary engineering services for MFT funds, section 13-00104-00-BR supplement 2. They then approved resolution 20-R-23 to appropriate Douglas County MFT funds, section 13-00104-00-BR supplement 2 as well as resolution 20-R-24 to appropriate Douglas County MFT funds, section 20-00135-00-SM, CH 7 Oakland-Newman Road. The board then voted to approve resolution 20-R-25, reappointing James E. Crane, PE, as Douglas County Engineer for a six year term beginning October 1, 2020 at a salary of 115 percent of what is decided by the Illinois Department of Transportation annually. Finally, the board approved resolution 20-R-26, appropriating Douglas County MFT funds for County Engineer’s salary, section 21-CS041-00-AC.

The board then proceeded to move to the public comment section of the meeting. The first comment came from Amanda Minor in reference to Munson’s talks about the CURE Program and the potential coverage of new chairs for the boardroom. Minor clarified that the program cannot say beforehand if things can or will be approved by them and provided another resource for the board to seek answers. 

The next question came from Jim Allen who asked what powers the emergency declaration granted. State’s Attorney Kate Watson explained that it granted Munson the power to sign documents and approve finances as necessary without need to call an emergency meeting. The declaration also allows the board to continue to live-stream their meetings on Zoom while still being within the Open Meetings Act. She also said that the County is on the same pace as the state, and they also extended their emergency order. 

Allen also asked if the board had approved an agenda item from the Personnel, Legal, and Management subcommittee meeting about approved vacation time in the policy. County Clerk Judi Pollock said that since the subcommittee had not made a decision on the issue it would continue to be discussed at their September subcommittee meeting before being brought before the board. 

The board also: 

* Approved the July 15, 2020 regular board minutes. 

* Approved the payments of the county’s financial obligations. 

* Approved the reports of fees of county offices. 

* Approved the Title VI non-discrimination policy plan for Douglas County. 

* Approved resolution 20-R-21, execution and amendment of federal cares act section 5311 grant agreement. 

* Approved resolution 20-R-22, cancellation of certificates of purchase for parcels 04-03-03-408-008, 04-03-03-408-009, 04-03-34-415-002, 07-06-31-308-003, 07-06-31-329-006, and M09-34-001-025-00. 

* Discussed the potential of getting new chairs for the board room. Munson said he hoped that these could possibly be reimbursed by the CURE Program. He wanted to see the board’s input on looking into it and will have more information for the September meeting. 

* Adjourned until the September 16 meeting at 9 a.m.

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