Supervisors re-open board meetings to limited public

Board of Supervisors
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Beginning Tuesday, June 9, the Jones County Board of Supervisors will re-open their board meetings to the public and press, provided they pass the screening in advance.

     The board will meet in the basement conference room to allow for separation and social distancing. Their meetings will be open to limited public attendance, though.

     However, they will continue to broadcast their meetings live on Zoom. The meeting number and password can be obtained from the Auditor’s Office in advance of the meeting.

     “It’s time to start opening up a bit,” suggested Supervisor Wayne Manternach.

     The board agreed, saying people can show up for their item on the agenda and leave following conversation or a vote.

     County Attorney Kristofer Lyons informed the board that jury trials are delayed until September. Other courtroom activities will commence in July.

     “The only thing we can resume are live hearings,” he said.

In other county business:

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner told the board that poll workers who assisted with the June 2 primary felt safe with the PPE measures in place. She said it’s unclear as to how the November election will be conducted, noting the promotion in mail-in absentee ballots this time around.

     • In relation to poll workers and precinct officials, Sulzner asked the board to consider additional supplemental pay, $50, for those who worked on Election Day during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said while PPE was provided, there was no way to pre-screen voters like they do at the courthouse.

     The additional pay would be on top of their hourly wage.

     “They stepped up and we appreciate their service,” said Sulzner of the 26 precinct officials who gave of their time.

     While the board approved of the additional pay, Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach asked what was keeping the board from offering this for other county employees.

     “We can do it on a case-by-case basis or those who are at risk,” said Supervisor Wayne Manternach.

     Sulzner said the difference between the county/courthouse and voters is that everyone is screened before entering the courthouse.

     “At the polls, we can’t screen,” she said. “We can’t refuse to see them.”

     Sulzner said she chose not to reduce the number of polling places in Jones County like other counties did. Some counties did not have enough poll workers, either.

     “These folks didn’t have the option other than to not do their job,” said Supervisor Ned Rohwedder said of poll workers stepping up.

     “They’re all in the vulnerable population, too,” added Sulzner.

     • The courthouse will continue to suspend the issuance of passports due to the backlog across the state.

     • The board approved a notice to bidders for the purchase of a new dozer for Secondary Roads. Bids will be awarded on June 23.

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