The Cavalier County Commission met Thursday, November 5 to discuss and approve their normal agenda items and to have an open discussion with all departments on safety measures to take within the courthouse.

The meeting started with a report from County Road Supervisor Terry Johnston. Spot repairs to County Road 13 are complete using a combination of ground up pavement and concrete. It looks like black dirt but packs down very hard. A motion was approved to pay the county’s 40% portion ($22,890.04) per Water Board request. Another motion was approved to pay the county’s 70% share for repairing the rusted-out culvert in Cyprus Township on the road going to the elevator.

County Sheriff Greg Fetsch reported that he and Chief Deputy Shane Gallagher were willing to be coroner and deputy coroner. It was made official with a motion from Commissioner Dave Zeis, seconded by Commissioner Austin LaFrenz, and approved unanimously. Fetsch then reported that the sheriffs and chiefs of the state had met, concerned about a mask mandate from the governor. The sheriffs are against mask mandates and prefer a stance of supporting the businesses and telling an unwilling customer either they wear a mask or they will have to leave. Fetsch confirmed that his department will comply with whatever is decided regarding a mandate but wanted them to know the position of the sheriffs.

Jill Denault, Director of the Norther Valley Human Service Zone, requested that the commissioners formally approve the zone plan that had been sent out to everyone. A motion was made, seconded, and carried. She also asked to purchase a motion sensor light and additional camera for the east door due to workers coming in late at night, which was approved.

All county departments then joined the Webex meeting for an open discussion concerning COVID-19 safety measures in the courthouse. Public Health nurse Steph Welsh presented information about the current local situation. She stated that the case rate is really high, hospital capacity is getting taken up, and that they needed to escalate their efforts to contain the spread of the disease. Masking is crucial outside of their homes, in their office, and with clients. Notably, if you have close contact with an active COVID case, you will not be required to quarantine if you both wore masks during the contact. She went through a list of recommendations on how to apply social distancing to the department operations and office layouts, touching on servicing clients outside and working from home.

Everyone involved in the discussion agreed fully with masking to reduce the spread of COVID, and most felt that a mask mandate would not be helpful. Welsh suggested that if the elected bodies could show their support for masking, it would be extremely helpful to Public Health and all of our health care systems. Chair Nick Moser relayed that Walsh County passed a resolution encouraging mask wearing. Welsh agreed that a resolution of support is vitally needed right now.

Some commissioners wanted to show their support for masking, while others did not want to publicly make a statement regarding masks even though they supported it personally. Zeis made a motion for Welsh and Stewart to write a resolution with the right wording to encourage mask wearing across the county that the Commission could endorse. Stewart said he would be able to draft a resolution and get it to County Auditor Lisa Gellner the same day. Commissioner Greg Goodman felt a resolution was not necessary. The motion was not seconded.

Alternatives to a resolution were discussed. Welsh stated that anything that supports their efforts would be appreciated. Goodman made a motion to place an ad in the Cavalier County Republican to thank the community and to follow public health recommendations. LaFrenz seconded. Zeis wanted to include language encouraging mask wearing. Goodman said it was not the Commission’s job to do so. The motion passed with a roll call vote, all voting yes.

Emergency Management Coordinator Karen Kempert requested the Cavalier County logo be added to a document she has been working on for two businesses to help support their mask requirements. Other logos already on the document included the City of Langdon, City of Munich, Public Health, Emergency Management, and various other health entities. Zeis made a motion to add the Cavalier County logo to the document, and Moser seconded in order to have a discussion. In a roll call vote, Zeis voted yes, LaFrenz no, Dick no, Goodman no, Moser no.

The next meeting is on November 17, 2020.

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