Stoddard County Commission - Government building closes to public
BLOOMFIELD — The Stoddard County Commission met with elected officials Monday morning to discus how the county would conduct business and keep employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elected officials discussed access to the government building. The county’s officeholders talked about closing each individual office, but they chose to close the building, effective immediately, although offices will be in operation during regular business hours.
Many items of business may be resolved over the phone, so contact the appropriate office at the following numbers: recorder, 573-568-3444 or 573-568-2545; assessor, 573-568-3163; collector, 573-568-3327; public administrator, 573-568-3830; county clerk, 573-568-3339 or prosecuting attorney at 573-568-4640 or 573-568-3150.
If business cannot be handled over the phone, appointments will be made to resolve the issue in person.
Presiding Commissioner Danny Talkington said that he would prefer keeping people working during the pandemic. However, Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver recommended that each office stagger employees’ schedules, so that if one of them is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire office wouldn’t have to be quarantined.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to direct office holders to tell up to one-half of their employees to stay home for a week. Affected employees would return to work the following week with the remainder of employees taking that week off.
The motion included that all employees would be paid regardless of whether they stay at home or not.
Talkington told the elected officials that they should hold off on making any unnecessary purchases and caution employees who stay at home to be cautious.
“We would rather our employees stay healthy,” Talkington said.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to hold a conference call from 9 to 10 a.m. during each Monday’s meeting, so if citizens have questions about COVID-19 issues in the county, they would have an avenue to get those questions answered.
Further information will be available later this week.
• The Stoddard County EMA started meeting with several jurisdictions about the COVID-19 virus on March 2. The group decided to meet at 3 p.m. every Monday while dealing with COVID-19. Meetings were held March 9 and 16. The meeting grew from 10 people on March 2 to about 50 on March 16.
EMA Director Kent Polsgrove said they are discontinuing in-person meetings because of social distancing guidelines. They planned to start conference calls on Monday.
Officials are considering whether to hold daily meetings.
• Polsgrove updated the commissioners on COVID-19. He said that federal and state emergencies began March 13, and Gov. Mike Parson’s order to limit assemblies to 10 or fewer people took effect Monday.
According to Polsgrove, the Chalk Bluff Rodeo event was held Saturday south of Dexter. Stoddard County Public Health Center Director Ben Godwin told the owner that holding the rodeo was not a good idea but law officers didn’t have the authority to stop it.
Sheriff Carl Hefner and Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver raised concerns about enforcement of the governor’s directives, even if he issues a statewide shelter-in-place order.
• Polsgrove said that the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering no-interest and low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Missouri small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
For more information, applicants may call SBA’s customer service center at 800-659-2955 or email email@example.com.
• The Stoddard County Ambulance District (SCAD) is limiting access to its facilities and taking the temperature of anyone who enters the building.
• All residential care facilities, Southeast Health Center of Stoddard County and Saint Francis Health Center of Dexter have limited access.
• Sheriff Carl Hefner said that anyone entering the jail or dispatch area must have his/her temperature taken and answer a list of questions before admittance will be allowed.
• Several retail stores have reduced hours or closed until further notice.
• The Stoddard County Public Health Center, Southeast Health and SCAD are putting together a plan to develop drive-through testing for the coronovirus.
“The only problem with having a Stoddard County drive-through test site is the availability of test kits,” Polsgrove said.
• The county’s extension office is closed with employees working from home, and the Justice Center is closed to the public.
Former Stoddard County Presiding Commissioner Greg Mathis addressed the commission as a concerned citizen.
He said that people want information. He urged the commission to communicate with elected officials to enlist their help in devising a contingency plan if COVID-19 threatens to shut down government offices.
Associate Commissioner Carol Jarrell agreed about the importance of a plan.
Mathis asked that the commission make daily updates for the county.
Stoddard County Collector Carla Moore raised concerns about the allocation of money raised through taxes to the various entities of the government, such as the sheriff’s department or assessor’s office.
She said the receipts and what’s being reimbursed to six different entities didn’t balance out in February after two did not balance in January.
While the distributed money doesn’t match, the overall balance does.
Presiding Commissioner Danny Talkington said that he would meet with Moore and County Clerk Cecil Weeks to iron out the differences.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to purchase a new Trane roof-top unit for the Justice Center at a cost of $9,380, which includes the removal of the current unit. They deemed the replacement an emergency need to speed along the process, eliminating the bid process.