COVID-19 issue gets county consideration

Moody County employees will have the option of working from home or in an isolated office if they have been exposed to COVID-19.
The issue was discussed by the county commission Nov. 5 because having employees quarantine for two weeks each time they come in close contact with someone who has the virus means they could be home not working with pay multiple times this year, said Tawny Heinemann, human resources manager. In many cases they end up having no symptoms and never get the disease.
There have been cases of COVID-19 among county employees, and the county has a mask requirement for workers. The courthouse also requires the public to wear masks when visiting, now that the election is over.
Commissioners also will consider a resolution at the next meeting on Nov. 17 which will encourage the use of masks and other hygiene efforts to help control further spread of the virus. The number of positive cases and deaths has been on the rise in Moody County for more than a month.
If employees are not able to work from home or use an unoccupied office on the third floor of the courthouse, they will need to dip into the 80 hours of time they are allowed COVID pay.
Commissioner Rick Veldkamp likes the solution. The county can’t go overboard with having everyone with a close contact to the virus going home or no one will be working, he said.
Government employees are considered essential workers.
“Work from home or isolate in the courthouse is a good suggestion,” he said.
In other county business,
•No one from the public attended a meeting intended for feedback on proposed zoning ordinance changes that primarily are aimed at rules for wind energy and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
Commissioners and Kendra Eng, zoning administrator, have spent more than a year going over the entire list of county ordinances to bring them up to date. Both wind energy and the agriculture industry have changed enough that rules needed review.
With wind energy, the changes include increased setbacks for turbines because the towers now are taller and blades are bigger.
For CAFOs, many of the changes also increase setback requirements, especially for the larger operations.
Commissioners will have a second reading on the ordinance changes on Nov. 17, and the new rules will become effective on Dec. 22.
•The county received $357,344 as part of the CARES Act money being distributed. That amount will replace money the county has spent on sheriff and dispatcher salaries, said Auditor Kristina Krull.
•Moody County Ambulance needs additional part-time EMTs and drivers in order to fill its shifts. The county is advertising for those positions.
The ambulance department also is applying for a grant from Sioux Valley Energy’s Round-up Program that would be used to buy equipment that is used to intubate patients with less trauma. The equipment is particularly needed as more patients experience respiratory problems because of COVID-19, said Tawny Heinemann, assistant to the commission and human resources manager.
•Commissioners gave county offices of equalization and emergency management permission to charge Valley Fibercom, which will be bringing broadband services to rural areas of Moody County, $8,000 for files that will provide public information on land parcels, addresses and other data needed for developing the technology hookups.
•Emergency manager Terry Albers told commissioners that the county will be 150 years old in 2023. “The county should start thinking about a celebration for 2023,” he said.
•The courthouse will host its annual festival of trees again with some changes that will protect people from possibly spreading the coronavirus. Organizations will make an appointment to set up their trees and will wear masks during that time.
Those who come to the courthouse for business or to see the display also will be required to wear masks.
•The county highway department has hired Jesse Frey, who started Nov. 9, at $16.26 an hour. He fills an open position.
•The highway department will buy a used forklift for $5,500 after its 1951 model died. The new forklift will come from a federal surplus auction and will have a cab with heat.


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