MARCH 23, 2020

Chairman Chad M. Peterson called the meeting to order at 9:30 AM with all members present as follows: Rick Steen, Duane Breitling, and Mary Scherling present via conference call; and Ken Pawluk and Chad M. Peterson present in person.
The purpose of the meeting is to provide the entire commission with an update on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
County Administrator
County Administrator Robert Wilson discussed work done over the last week to provide as many staff as possible the option to work remotely. He said 40 additional computers have been ordered for Human Services to utilize. Several departments have already begun to allow staff to work remotely.
Mr. Wilson said restrictions to county buildings went into effect on Friday, March 20th. Access by the public may be done through appointment only. Any county business is encouraged to be done through email, regular mail or the internet. The public may complete an online form if face-to-face appointments are needed.
Mr. Wilson said effective today employees and public will be screened by Sheriff's Office security staff, who will use the questions outlined by the federal government for Coronavirus screenings. Infrared thermometers may also be used to take temperatures of individuals.
Mr. Wilson will meet this morning with partners from local governments in the metro area to discuss coordination and dissemination of information to the public.
Mr. Wilson said a temporary emergency paid leave policy has been created to address the virus and will remain in effect until April 30, 2020.
Mr. Wilson said protocols have been developed by the North Dakota Department of Human Services to provide guidance to Cass County Human Services regarding face-to-face visits with the public.
Mr. Wilson said boards that continue to meet during this time need to follow open meeting laws, which require a physical location for public access, and the option to attend through either a conference call or virtual meeting.
Sheriff Jesse Jahner said field and jail operating procedures, which he discussed at the commission meeting last week, remain in place. The action plan has not changed. The procedures provide safety and security to the public and employees.
Mr. Pawluk asked if the sheriff has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment. Sheriff Jahner said they have a good supply, and each vehicle has a kit for field staff.
Sheriff Jahner said the jail population this morning sits at 214. The preferred number in order to provide single-cell bunking is 212. He said nine additional spots are available if needed through the Community Supervision program. Contingency plans are in place to move inmates if needed during a quarantine of the facility.
The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) will be open this afternoon, which will allow staff to provide more efficient service through direct access and contact with appropriate agencies. The TOC will also be set up to deal with flood responses as needed.
Information Technology
Information Technology Director Terry Schmaltz said 40 computers will arrive this week and will be available for staff by the end of the week. He said there is a good supply of resources for employees to work remotely.
Mr. Pawluk questioned whether meetings should be live streamed to provide public access. Mr. Peterson said there are different options available. Mr. Schmaltz believes it would be relatively easy to provide this capability through Microsoft Teams, and said all that is needed is a video camera, which he estimates would cost $1,000.
State's Attorney
State's Attorney Birch Burdick said all jury trials have been cancelled through April 24th. Two judges are dedicated to handle court hearings. He said under state law, the public needs to have access to court hearings. The current goal, if possible, is to limit the number of people attending hearings.
Tax Equalization
Tax Equalization Director Paul Fracassi said around 2,000 notices are being sent to property owners regarding increased assessments. Equalization board meetings with local jurisdictions are scheduled in March and April. His office will encourage residents to reach out through email, phone calls or letters regarding their assessments. He said their office may set up video conference calls if needed for equalization meetings.
Veterans Service Office
Veterans Service Officer Chris Deery said his office is using the regular mail to send forms and obtain signatures from veterans. He said the state office has been helpful during this time. Two of his staff are working remotely.
Public Information Coordinator
Human Resources Director Cindy Stoick introduced the new Public Information Coordinator (PIC) Catlin Solum to the board.
MOTION, passed
On motion by Mr. Pawluk, seconded by Mrs. Scherling and all in favor, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 AM.
Michael Montplaisir, Finance Director
Cass County, North Dakota
Chad M. Peterson, Chairman
Cass County Board of Commissioners
(April 14, 2020) 2831683