City Council agenda includes emergency declaration
The Crookston City Council’s Nov. 23 meeting agenda includes a resolution declaring a state of emergency in Crookston due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not unusual for a local municipality to take such an action under circumstances such as those that currently exist, and most of the resolution language is boilerplate in nature and begins with a worldwide scope – the World Health Organization declaring a coronavirus global pandemic – and tightens its focus from there. It includes language relating to President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declaring a state emergency.
Declaring a local emergency is also a prudent step if funding or other forms of support are ever going to come Crookston’s way from other jurisdictions due to the pandemic and its financial and economic cost. The resolution also indicates the mayor and council will support City Administrator Amy Finch and City Emergency Manager/Fire Chief Tim Froeber as they request appropriate aid and resources from surrounding jurisdictions, cities, counties, the state and federal government as needed.
The resolution, due to the emergency, would also scuttle in-person council, committee and advisory board meetings due to them not being “practical” or “prudent” given the current situation. The resolution calls for such meetings to be conducted by phone or other electronic means.
When the pandemic’s first wave hit last spring, several council members attended several council and Ways and Means Committee meetings remotely, via technology like GoogleMeets and Zoom. Subsequently, Plexiglas barries have been erected between each council member in the city hall council chambers, and a reduced number of chairs for the audience are spaced out due to social distancing requirements. Masks have been worn sporadically by some staff, but not all staff during meetings in the chambers.
The resolution also indicates the mayor and council will support City staff with their ongoing operations, under Finch’s direction, including implementing new staff protocols, strategies and processes to ensure public services are maintained while best protecting everyone’s health, safety and welfare.