Douglas County Board adopts a nepotism policy

By Kendra Hennis 
The monthly meeting of the Douglas County Board was called to order at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 21. All board members were present for the meeting.

During the consent agenda, the board unanimously approved ordinance 20-O-13, adopting a  nepotism policy in Douglas County. The board said in the ordinance that it is to “promote a productive environment, free from conflicts of interest as well as favoritism and unfair advantage, whether perceived or real, the Douglas County Board deems it necessary to adopt rules and guidelines related to the employment of family members.” The full ordinance is available on the Douglas County website under meeting information. 

The board then extended the emergency order due to COVID-19 in Douglas County for an additional 30 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 Open Meetings Act. 

The board then appointed the new drainage commissioners for a term until November 30, 2023. Commissioners include: Charly Anderson, Brushy Fork Drainage District NO. 64-L-712; H. Michael Hilgenberg, NO. 64-L-10086; James Baird, Drainage District NO. 11 for Arcola – No. 85-L-7; Andy Miller, Drainage District NO. 3 of Bourbon No. 64-L-6009; Steve Kauffman, Drainage District NO. 5 of Bourbon NO. 64-L-9281; Brett Winn, Drainage District NO. 4 of Town of Tuscola NO. 64-L-10027; Michael Hilgenberg, Miller Drainage District NO. 91-L-3; Phil Kappes, Scattering Forks Drainage District NO. 64-L-7661; Wallace Wax, Union Drainage District NO. 3 of Arcola and Tuscola NO. 84-L-125; and Brad Little, Union Drainage District NO. 3 of Bowdre and Arcola NO. 64-L-5689.

The board then went on to discuss committee reports. No committee chair had additional input but reminded residents that subcommittee reports are available on the Douglas County Website. Douglas County Clerk Judi Pollock used the time to inform the board that the county had received an $8,885 grant that would be used to cover costs of extra personnel and sanitization on election day. 

Chairman Munson followed by providing an update to the CURE grant funding. The CURE grant covers different things related to COVID and additional expenses from that. One of the covered expenses includes payroll paid to health and safety personnel. The board received verification that the county will recieve $255,000 in reimbursements for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office payroll for March through December 2020. Since the Sheriff’s payroll was already appropriated in the budget, this allows the board to re-distribute the funds for other necessary expenses. One of these purchases includes 14 new county boardroom chairs in the amount of $4,712.17. This was necessary as the old chairs were beginning to fall apart and could not be properly sanitized. The old chairs will be taken to the Douglas County Sheriff’s office for use in their conference room. The county is in talks of some upcoming projects, but the budget and finance subcommittee will be meeting soon to discuss the best use of the additional money.

In the public comment section of the meeting, Douglas County Health Department Administrator Amanda Minor asked about the nepotism policy in existing situations. State’s Attorney Kate Watson said this varies by individual cases and that would reach out to Minor for details. 

The board then turned to Minor to discuss the current COVID-19 pandemic in Douglas County. Minor emphasised that there are huge increases everywhere throughout the county. The health department is in collaboration with Libman’s in Arcola and had completed over 100 tests Tuesday night, of which they were still awaiting the results. Minor encouraged residents to keep using the 3 w’s to help prevent the spread in Douglas County. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap throughout each day, watch to keep six feet of distance between yourself and others, and wear a face cover or mask. 

The board also: 

* Approved the September 16, 2020 regular board minutes. 

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

* Approved the reports of fees of county offices. 

* Approved a contract with American Environmental Corp. to complete the necessary commodity flow study. The study was paid for by a grant for local EMA volunteers. They will come train some of the local EMA volunteers how to count traffic flow to help give a better idea of the commodities of the county as well as what is coming through. 

* Appointed David Bozarth to the Douglas County Health Board for a term until November 30, 2023. 

* Approved a cancellation for certificate of purchase for parcel 06-04-33-103-012. 

* Approved resolution 20-R-35, approving a stockpile lease agreement renewal with JB Helmuth. 

* Adjourned until the November 18 meeting at 9 a.m.

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