The Pennington County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday (3-24-2020) night at the Pennington County Justice Center. The board was careful to never have more than 10 people in the room at any one time. The County Commissioners also made the decision to meet every Thursday during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an electronic meeting option offered.This practice will begin April-2-2020 and continue until the COVID-19 pandemic is done. Also, county office doors will remain locked , with staff present, through April 10th. The Law Enforcement Center lobby will remain open.
Sheriff Ray Kuznia requested approval to hire Scott Mekash (MAH-CASH’) for full-time investigator which was approved. Sheriff Kuznia also requested two watch-guard cameras at a cost of $9840 for the new squad cars. He also requested approval of set-up for sirens, lighting and radio installation for each new squad at a cost of $15, 879 for the new Ram pick-up and $14, 268 for the new Durango squad vehicle.
Sheriff Kuznia also requested a “Stalker” radar unit for the Durango at $3151. Delivery of both vehicles will be delayed in manufacture due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheriff Kuznia also requested filling one full-time corrections officer with the internal transfer of Ian Hutton, who is currently a part-time corrections officer.
Public Health Officer Kayla Jore Emergency Manager Erik Beitel presented next. Beitel reported that, although Mayo Clinic has been assisting the Minnesota Department of Health with COVID-19 testing backlog, there were still 900 tests to finish testing.
13 COVID-19 tests have been taken in Pennington County. Three of them were negative while 10 of the tests are part of the backlog. There is no shelter in- place order although the University of Minnesota is studying the practice. There are over a million masks heading for Minnesota however it is unknown when they will get here. Emergency Manager Beitel ordered 1000 masks for Pennington County along with gowns and cleaning supplies for emergency services.
The Small Business Administration (SBA)loan guidelines will be available Friday. Public Health Officer Jore and Beitel also reminded people to seek definitive information such as the Minnesota Department of Health website. Minnesotans are doing well at social distancing also as evidenced by a 26 percent decrease in traffic in Detroit Lake, and Bemidji. People are staying home. Beitel encouraged people to visit their neighbors and check on them, assisting with groceries. County Commissioner Darryl Tveitbakk reported that there were two confirmed cases in Walsh County, whose county seat is Grafton, North Dakota. There are no confirmed cases in Pennington.
Next county board meeting will be April 2nd at 9 am.