The Campbell County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting Tuesday in an effort to navigate the outbreak of COVID-19 on a local level. In order to follow social distancing guidelines set by Governor Mark Gordon, the meeting was aired live on Gillette Public Access TV with four board members physically present and one joining in via conference call.
The special meeting was held to address current closures and potential reopenings of county-run facilities, specifically Bell Nob Golf Course and the Campbell County North Landfill. Additionally, the Board discussed working closely with Campbell County Human Resources and Risk Manager Brandi Elder to adopt the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in an effort to accommodate county employees by granting state of emergency sick leaves.
The Board said it expects to update policies and action plans relating to COVID-19 every two weeks, per their regularly scheduled meetings.
Kicking off the meeting, Chairman DG Reardon said the Campbell County Courthouse will remain closed to the public “for the foreseeable future,” in order to follow state guidelines as well as protect the health of staff and members of the public, as will Children’s Developmental Services, the Rockpile Museum, and Public Libraries in both Gillette and Wright.
Participating in the meeting via conference call, North Landfill Manager Matt Olsen worked with the Board to devise a strategy to allow public access to the landfill without overwhelming workers or causing unnecessary exposure. Originally, the landfill was set to open to the public on April 4 then not again until May. Commissioner Bob Maul noted that since its closure, he has noticed a build-up of trash, used appliances and other waste material along state and county roads.
After discussion, Olsen put aside his own apprehensions about the landfill’s resources and available workers and agreed to open the landfill to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 4 and April 18.
The North Landfill has set guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19 through unnecessary exposure on those dates, including that all public loads must be taken to Pit Two, individuals are to dispose of no more than one load a day, loads will need to be weighed upon arrival and departure and children under the age of 15, as well as pets, must stay inside of vehicles. Lastly, the landfill will not accept items which usually have a fee such as shingles or used tires.
Parks and Recreation Director Rick Manser also spoke to the Board during the call, specifically on behalf of the Bell Nob Golf Course, which was scheduled to reopen April 6.
Manser, who reviewed his plan of action to protect golfers from exposure to COVID-19 with the Board, outlined steps that could be taken including the spreading out of tee times by roughly 20-minutes or so, allowing no more than nine golfers on the course at any given time, permitting only one person to occupy a single golf cart, opening the course at a later hour to protect maintenance workers from exposure, placing a card reader outside to reduce face-to-face interactions and shutting down the club house, restaurant and bar.
Commissioners Maul and Rusty Bell wondered if opening the course might be overstepping the Governor’s social distancing recommendations pertaining to COVID-19 rules regulating a public, social gathering place.
Commissioner Colleen Faber, who had previously discussed the issue with a local medical professional, argued that a golf course is less of a “stuffy gathering place” and more of an “open-spaced park,” she said. “I think with the modifications that have been set, golfing is a great way to get out of the house while staying safe and healthy.”
After some further discussion, Bell motioned to continue the closure of all county facilities excluding Bell Nob Golf Course, and the motion was carried four to one, confirming April 6 as Bell Nob’s official reopening date.
Switching gears, the Board spoke with Brandi Elder to evaluate concerns regarding the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The County adopted the act as every business or entity of 500 employees or more is responsible for doing.
Elder, who read through the act thoroughly before explaining the latest plan of action for employee sick leave, was met with agreement from the Board. Bell motioned to replace the County’s current FMLA plan for the new Families First Corona Virus Response Act, the motion was seconded by Commissioner Shelstad, confirming the new policy.
In order to ensure Campbell County’s overall public health and safety, the Board closed the meeting by assuring the County’s residents that they are working diligently to create plans, guidelines and restrictions to accommodate the ever-evolving healthcare needs of the entire community.