Lengthy discussion, followed by two attempts to vote for a Carlton County mask policy compromise, ended with no clear choice for a majority of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at their Regular Meeting on July 14.
To this point each department head has set mask and social distancing guidelines for the work they do in their area. State judicial courts have ordered that masks must be worn as the courts slowly start to reopen. One entrance to the Courthouse will continue with a deputy posted during business hours to insure safety during court hearings and regular courthouse activities. Other visitors to the Courthouse will continue to have an appointment or be cleared via phone by the office staff they wish to see.
“I believe the Board should set an example supporting the wearing of masks in public,” explained Commissioner Dick Brenner. “The safety of our employees is our responsibility and all visitors to a County facility should wear a mask if social distancing is not possible.”
Commissioner Tom Proulx repeatedly said that no decision should be taken until the Governor decides on a state-wide plan. He said social distancing is difficult to do in crowded offices in the Courthouse and when using the available restrooms. One entrance into the building has its own social distancing problems and a good chance of a disease spread.
Comments ranged from a possible over reach of government to the details should be worked out to Chairman Marv Bodie’s exclamation of “I guess we will just wait and see.”
It was not clear if the Management Team will hash out a proposal and present it for Board approval or not.
Carlton County has received about $4.5 million from the Federal government, called the Cares Act, that reimburses costs attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Cares Act Committee has been formed by the County Board consisting of the County Attorney, Auditor/Treasurer, Economic Development Director, County Coordinator and two Commissioners of which Commissioners Peterson and Thell volunteered.
Dan Reed, Chairman of Automba Township, was appointed to help represent the rural areas such as the Cities of Kettle River and Wright and the Townships of Automba and Split Rock whose money for COVID-19 incurred costs were included in the funds sent to the County. Work on possible proposals must be given final County Board approval and the allocations completed by December 2020.
In other County news, $120,000 in technology upgrades is needed at the Old Cloquet City Hall for County staffing placed at that site. The County Coordinator and the Economic Development Program are currently housed there.
County Engineer JinYeene Neumann announced that a grant of $503,000 has been awarded for the Cloquet and Moose Lake Airports to purchase a large snow blower to keep the runways clear.
Assessor Kyle Holmes was reappointed for another 4 year term.
The Fond Du Lac Band received support from the Carlton County Board that a 200’ X 200’ site lease would be available for the construction of a 230kV substation made possible by a grant from the US Department of Energy if that materializes. The site is south of the rail road tracks and diagonally SE from the junction of Halvorson Road and Hwy 210 and SW of the junction of the Komoko Road and Hwy 210.