County does business as (un)usual for two weeks

     Rock County employees are conducting their usual business in very unusual ways under the governor’s shelter-in-place directive that began at midnight Friday.

       No county layoffs are planned as each department provides “critical services” as defined by the state.

       Commissioners approved the plan Monday morning in special session via videoconference.

       Because each county department meets the state’s critical service exemption, county employees are allowed to travel to and from home to work, if they cannot work from home.

       However, employees won’t meet face-to-face with the public.

       County buildings remain locked with employees providing services over the phone, fax or electronically.

       A drop box is set up in front of the courthouse for documents.

       Departments will keep their usual business hours.

       “It’s an unusual time but we have each stepped up and developed a plan to keep employees safe and conduct business,” said County Administrator Kyle Oldre.

       Inside county offices each department is using different methods to keep employee workstations six or more feet apart to limit potential coronavirus exposure including working from home.

       Oldre emphasized how, in a matter of days, plans were put into place to meet the governor’s executive order for Minnesotans to stay at home.

       This is how each department is conducting business:

       •Rural water is cross-training employees and maintaining only one person in the office at a time. When outside, workers are staying at least six feet from each other. Contact Rural Water at 507-283-8886.

       •Auditor-treasurer is working remotely from home with employees splitting work shifts and/or have desks temporarily set up at a safe distance from other employees. Phone 507-283-5060.

       •Land Records Office is also rotating its four employees with two working from home and two at the office, separated by a safe distance. Phone 507-283-5022.

       •Highway Department is staying separated in individual offices with workers completing outdoor tasks of hauling gravel, grading, etc., as much as possible. Phone 507-283-5010.

       •Library is open with two full-time employees working in separate areas of the building. By appointment the public may schedule usage of a computer to sign up for employment benefits. Phone 507-449-5040

       •Sheriff’s Office primarily works in individual squad cars and dispatchers are distancing themselves in the office. Sheriff Evan Verbrugge said officers are noticing fewer people out and about in the county.

       “People are starting to stay at home,” he said. “If it is not necessary, don’t go.”

       Paperwork, especially burn permits, can be requested by phone and the permit emailed or mailed to recipients. Phone 507-283-5000.

       •Extension currently has all of University of Minnesota employees working remotely from home. Phone 507-283-1302.

       •Veteran Services Officer is working in a separate office in the courthouse. Phone 507-283-5061.

       •County attorney is working under the court’s system coronavirus procedures which allows for additional videoconferencing or the rescheduling of court dates. 507-283-9111.

       •Administration/emergency management is participating in local and state videoconferencing to stay at least a week ahead of personal protection supplies, especially masks for the hospital and area nursing home personnel. Phone 507-283-5065.

       The county’s closure of offices to the public is in effect until April 10, the last day of the state’s shelter-in-place directive.

       The directive instructs residents to stay home and limit their movements. The effort is to slow the spread of the coronavirus to give communities more time to prepare for a potential surge of affected people in the next couple of weeks.

 

In other business, the commissioners:

     •amended its March 17 emergency declaration to extend through May 4. The declaration allows county personnel the ability to respond and gather necessary resources more quickly in order to limit the impact of the coronavirus in the county.

       •postponed the scheduled April 7 public hearing for the housing initiative request by Tom Metzger until May 5.

 

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