March 18, 2020
North Platte, Nebraska
Emergency meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held in the District Courtroom at the Lincoln County Courthouse. Present were Commissioners Joe Hewgley, Bill Henry, Kent Weems, Walt Johnson, Jerry Woodruff and County Clerk, Rebecca Rossell. Henry called the meeting to order at 2:30 P.M.
Chairman Henry announced the Open Meeting Act with amendments is posted for public review and the county board will comply with the open meeting requirements.
The emergency declaration signed by Chairman Henry was read. Roll call was taken with all board members present.
Commissioner Hewgley read the state statutes and information put out by the Governor’s office concerning emergency meetings and teleconferencing.
Chairman Henry stated the meeting was called to discuss what action was needed or should be taken to protect county employees as well as the public since there was a confirmed COVID-19 case in Lincoln County.
Commissioner Hewgley commented this is a rather fluid and fast moving situation across the United States. He reported that the County Board controls all physical/real property for the county. Each elected official controls their own offices. The County Board needed to discuss how this affects the departments which are controlled by the County Board. Any action for the court system will be addressed by the State of Nebraska. He asked that each elected official comment on how they planned to address this situation in their offices and serve the public.
Each elected official gave a brief description of how they planned to proceed with their offices statutory obligations and work load.
Commissioner Weems questioned how people would get through security for court hearings, etc.
Sheriff Kramer stated that it will be operations as usual for them. Those that are ill coming into the detention center will be cited and released.
There was discussion concerning if the front doors should be locked or left open with security personnel or Sheriff’s Office personnel attending them.
Commissioner Johnson said that if the door is locked they will read the signs posted. There is no need to have security personnel tell them to leave after they have already entered the building.
Randy Saner, UNL Extension Director, explained how the University of Nebraska is planning to operate at this time due to the Corona virus.
Commissioner Woodruff stated his concern was how the public does the things they need to do if the doors are locked.
Court personnel said they would supply a list to security personnel of those who would be allowed in the building for court appearances.
Commissioner Johnson commented that closing the county facilities would be done for one purpose, to help prevent the spread of the corona virus. If we don’t lock the doors then what will we have accomplished.
Amanda Spiechert representing the Public Defender’s Office, told board members that protocol has come out for screening people attending court hearings.
Commissioner Weems stated there seems to be a consensus from the elected officials, which is to lock the buildings to protect the public as well as our staff. He then asked about other departments outside the courthouse building. He reported that the private sector is also starting to limit public access.
Commissioner Johnson said the Highway Supt. and other appointed department heads should have the authority to do what needs to be done for their departments.
Commission Hewgley replied that the County Board is the elected officials responsible for those departments. Commissioner Weems concurred that he also felt these directions need to come from the County Board.
Commissioner Hewgley asked that if we close the county facilities that we do it as of close of business tomorrow on 3-19-20.
Commissioner Woodruff asked to further discuss the time of closing.
Motion by Woodruff, seconded by Weems to close all county facilities to the public as of March 18, 2020 at 5:00 P.M., and to remain closed until further notice.
Commissioner Weems commented that the County Board will be following this on a daily basis.
Upon roll call vote Hewgley, Weems, Henry, Johnson and Woodruff voted “aye”. Nays, none.
Commissioner Hewgley read the proposed resolution concerning a modified to the Personnel Handbook to grant personal leave.
Motion by Weems, seconded by Johnson to adopt Resolution No. 2020-12 modifying the Personnel Handbook to grant personal leave during the COVID-19 virus. Upon roll call vote Hewgley, Weems, Henry, Johnson and Woodruff voted “aye”. Nays, none.
Discussion was held concerning the road department and other essential personnel.
Brief discussion was held concerning using teleconferencing and technology for board meetings. The County Commissioners meeting on Monday, March 23, 2020 will be available via Zoom. They are strongly recommending the public to use alternative methods to attend the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:39 P.M.
Advance notice and the agenda for the March 18, 2020 emergency board meeting were sent to the county board and all others requesting the same. News media was contacted by email concerning the emergency meeting with a courtesy follow up phone call.
The agenda for the meetings to be held on Monday, March 23, 2020 will be kept
continually current and open for inspection at the office of the Lincoln County Clerk. The regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners will be at the Lincoln County Courthouse in the Commissioners Room at 9:00 A.M. The regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Equalization will be at the Lincoln County Courthouse in the Commissioners Room at 9:15 A.M.
Rebecca J. Rossell
Lincoln County Clerk
Publish, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.