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Crow Wing County Board Chairman Issues Local Emergency Declaration

Crow Wing County Board Chairman, Paul Koering, issued a declaration of a Local Emergency effective March 21, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By law, County Board Chairs can declare a local emergency for up to three days, at which time a majority of the full County Board must agree to extend such local emergency or allow it to expire. Extending the emergency declaration is on the County Board’s agenda at their meeting on Tuesday March 24, 2020.

A declaration of a local emergency invokes necessary parts of the county’s emergency response and recovery plan to authorize aid and assistance under those plans. This allows the County to act quickly without compliance with time-consuming procedures and formalities prescribed by law pertaining to: the performance of public work, entering into contracts, incurring of obligations, employment of temporary workers, rental of equipment, purchase of supplies and materials, and the appropriation and expenditure of public funds to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Crow Wing County.

According to County Board Chairman, Paul Koering, “I do not take making such a declaration lightly and I look forward to the full County Board being able to take up the issue of extending it at the meeting of the County Board next Tuesday, March 24. I believe this declaration is necessary at this time to ensure that County government can cut through the red tape faster than some of the normal, more cumbersome requirements in order to better protect the citizens of Crow Wing County and limit the impacts of the COVID-19 virus in our local community. The economic impacts of this emergency are already being felt by a lot of people in our community and we need to be able to do what we can do to try to minimize it despite knowing we could never do enough.”

Koering continued, “One of the things this will allow us to do is to purchase as much as we can locally to help support our local business community as much as we can. We work with your money and, now more than ever, we need that money circulating and recirculating through our own community to keep our own people employed as much as we can. These are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. We simply must stick together.”

The declaration also provides authority for the County Board to limit the size of public gatherings at County Board meetings in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in such circumstances. This same limitation is also being extended to the County’s Planning Commission/Board of Adjustment (PC/BOA) as well as the County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). It also allows for meetings of these two bodies to happen via video-conferencing or telephone conferencing should that become necessary.

In order to continue to provide maximum public transparency, the declaration also includes a requirement to live-stream County Board and PC/BOA meetings on the county’s website. The County already routinely stores videos of every County Board and PC/BOA meeting on its website. The web address to view County Board meetings live-streamed is http://crowwingcountymn.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx. This is also the same web address to view past video recordings County Board and PC/BOA meetings. Full access to County Board meetings for media outlets within Crow Wing County will also continue to be allowed at their discretion. Members of the public wishing to comment can write in to coadmin@crowwing.us.

Koering also said, “This is an unprecedented time for all of us. It is OK to be worried, but it is not OK to panic. I am already impressed by the many efforts going on in our community, our schools, and our hospitals to help support those in need and those in crisis. Pulling together, even from a safe social distance, will make this community come out the other end of this crisis, and there will be an end, even stronger than we were before. Let’s support each other more in this time of need. Buy locally whenever you can to keep our money circulating in our community. Buy take-out more often than you need to so those workers can keep getting a paycheck. Supply meals or gasoline to your neighbors who you know may have been laid off. This is a time for compassion and for taking care of each other. This is Minnesota’s favorite place. When this is over, let’s make sure it stays that way.”

The full Crow Wing County Declaration of Local Emergency is here