The Lake County Commission voted on Tuesday to purchase equipment which will allow them to meet remotely should that become necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since the pandemic reached Lake County, all were wearing masks at the meeting.
"I don't think this is going to go away anytime soon, and I think we need to be prepared," Commissioner Dennis Slaughter said.
On Wednesday, Lake County had eight new virus cases and 230 active cases. Since the first case was confirmed in April, the county has had 734 confirmed cases and nine deaths. Currently, 43.88% of tests administered come back positive.
The county may see a spike in coming days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Madison was the site of a free, drive-thru COVID-19 screening, one of 10 sites chosen by the state Department of Health for a mass screening.
The project was organized by the DoH in conjunction with the S.D. Army National Guard, state Office of Emergency Management and local officials. Among those assisting with the self-administered tests were local EMTs and paramedics. The screening was also supported locally by law enforcement and the Lake County Office of Emergency Management.
On Tuesday, county commissioners approved a technology package put together by Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer. The package included a Zoom subscription, a Logitech meet-up camera, six Chromebooks, a USB to HDMI converter and a 12-outlet 8-foot cord.
"I do not claim to be a technology expert, but I got some advice from First District," Gust said.
At the Nov. 5 commission meeting, she reported that First District Association of Local Governments had indicated CARES Act funding could be used for technology for meeting remotely. Commissioners decided to explore that option because funds allocated for the county must be used by the end of the year.
Gust reported that one of the large-screen TVs in the Public Safety Building could be used, but it would have to be returned should it become necessary to activate an Emergency Operations Center. She recommended a Zoom subscription due to limitations with the free subscription.
"I know some of you like keyboards and you have more functionality with Chromebooks," Gust said, explaining why she proposed that option rather than tablets. She indicated they are mid-level, not "topnotch" laptops.
"For what you'll be using it for, it will be fine," she assured commissioners.
Commissioner Aaron Johnson observed that they must be durable since they are the laptop of choice among school systems.
Commissioner Deb Reinicke was among the first to support moving forward on Gust's recommendation, observing the county did have CARES Act funding and the pandemic "isn't done yet."
Following a motion to approve purchasing the technology package, Slaughter observed that commissioners have been fortunate in being able to meet in person thus far.
"Eventually, your luck is going to run out," he said.
In other business, the commissioners:
-- Awarded the bid for the 2021 box culvert project on 461st Street over North Buffalo Creek near Chester to Nolz Dragline and Construction, Inc., out of Sioux Falls. The company was one of three to bid on the project. At $334,978.34, Nolz Dragline came in $77,378.66 under the engineer's estimate.
Reinicke observed that Nolz Dragline has done two of the recent bridge projects the county has undertaken with grant support from the state Department of Transportation.
"This is the first project that you will pay 100% and then seek reimbursement," Gust told commissioners. "You have to pay 100% of the engineering costs and seek 80% reimbursement for that."
-- Approved a Letter of Contract with Banner Associates, Inc., for engineering services during the construction phase of the box culvert project. Gust indicated Banner has overseen previous projects for the county.
-- Acknowledged termination of a correctional officer at the Lake County Jail effective Nov. 13.
-- Declared a Ricoh copier in the Lake County Sheriff's Office as surplus for the purpose of trading it in.
-- Approved the purchase of a used CAT bucket for $4,500 by the Lake County Highway Department. Photos showed the current bucket is rusted through and has holes in it.
"There's a hole I could put my foot through," Reinicke told fellow commissioners.
A grapple hook will be added to the current bucket to be used for moving tree limbs and similar items.
-- Acknowledged receiving a letter from the state DOT indicating the county's Five-Year County Highway and Bridge Improvement Plan has been officially approved and certified. The letter indicates the county can now submit applications for the Bridge Improvement Grant program for structures listed on the approved plan.
-- Approved two plats: Lots 3 and 4 of the Stoney Point Addition in Lakeview Township for potential single-family residential development, and Lot 1 of the Doblar Addition in Herman Township for potential single-family residential development.
-- Approved an 18-foot variance on the lakeside for Karla Cazer and the Lubben Trust to build a new lake home adjacent to Lake Madison. Planning and Zoning Officer Mandi Anderson explained that neighbors had moved their single-family home closer to the road, leaving "a very generous lakeside frontage." She also told commissioners the property is not in the FEMA floodplain and the site is seven feet above the water line.
-- Approved a conditional-use permit for Ricky and Vicki Johns to open a seasonal retail stand utilizing a permanent structure at Cows-n-Canoes Country Mercantile. They will be selling Christmas trees, wreaths, gifts, homemade chocolates and treats, hot beverages and crafts along SD-34 west of Madison across from Prairie Village.
Reinicke asked whether they would also need a variance since the lot is not two acres. Anderson indicated the Johnses would need a variance if they were going to permanently change the use of the structure, but not for a seasonal business because they have a conditional-use permit for the existing business.
The Johnses are also planning to offer tractor-drawn sleigh rides. Commissioners were concerned about safety issues. Anderson said she recommended they not try to cross SD-34 since the building is on a curve. Commissioners asked that they also talk with at least one member of the township board since township roads would be used for this.