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Municipalities dealing with pandemic

Cities, villages closing buildings, supporting businesses

The Oregon City Council met remotely on Tuesday night to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The city utilized zoom and broadcasted it on screens at city hall and gave out the code to join the meeting.

The city formed an action team two weeks ago to address COVID-19 that includes Mayor Ken WIlliams, Police Chief Darin DeHaan, all department heads, Chamber of Commerce Director Liz Vos, Finance Commissioner Terry Schuster and Public Health Commissioner Kurt Wilson.

“We have open lines of communication to schools, parks, fire and county health as needed,” Williams said in a Facebook post addressing issues with the pandemic.

Oregon has taken action to support its local businesses as many of them are currently closed to the public.

A list of restaurants that are offering carry out or delivery is being maintained by the city and chamber. Food pick up parking spots have been established downtown.

Essential city services will be maintained. All city departments except police will have one employee on site to respond to needs with the rest on call. The police department will remain fully staffed.

City hall will be closed to the public but staffed to answer calls. Water payments can be made online on the city’s website.

Mt. Morris

The Mt. Morris Village Board cancelled its March 24 meeting and has closed its Village Hall to the public. Staff is still working.

Payments can be made through the payment box at Village Hall or by mail. The water, sewer streets and police workers have been deemed essential and still working. Village parks are still open, but the use of playground equipment is discouraged, Village Trustee Philip Labash said in a Facebook post.

Garbage pickup in the village will remain on schedule, but only refuse that is in the can or bagged at the curb will be accepted.

Private businesses that have been deemed essential have the option of staying open including the grocery store, the laundry mat and gas stations.

“Many village restaurants are open for carry out and curbside service,” Labash said. “I encourage you to patronize these businesses during this difficult time.”

Polo

Polo has cancelled all of its city council meetings until April 20. Ideas of a teleconference or a bigger location that would allow for social distancing are being discussed if that meeting happens, City Clerk Sydney Bartelt said.

“We’re going to wait it out right now,” Bartelt said. “I think the council would prefer to do one of those alternatives.”

Polo City Hall is closed to the public and has been since March 16. All employees are still working as normal. The City Council is currently in the process of deciding whether that should change.

Water services to residents will not be shut off for lack of payment during this time. There also won’t be late fees this month.

Forreston

Forreston made the decision at a special COVID-19 meeting on Monday to lock all of the village’s office doors, Village Clerk Michelle Drayton said.

Village employees are still working and water bill payments can be put in the Village Hall dropbox or by mail or online.

“We’ve had our last scheduled board meeting, we’re not sure when the next one will be,” Drayton said. “We don’t have a conference call system. We’re working with our phone carriers to see if that’s something we could set up.”

The Forreston Police are still patrolling as usual. Water will not be shut off due to no payment during this time, Drayton said.

Ogle County

Many civil and criminal cases will be postponed in the 15th Judicial Circuit that includes Lee, Ogle and Carroll counties.

Cases will be postponed or suspended starting Monday and running through April 17 because of coronavirus concerns, and teleconference communication is encouraged.

The Illinois Supreme Court advises limiting nonessential in-person court proceedings, especially jury trials and large docket calls.

The move is being made “out of an abundance of concern for the health and well-being of the citizens of Carroll, JoDaviess, Lee, Ogle and Stephenson counties, and is consistent with the recommendations of the Illinois Supreme Court as well as the county health departments within our circuit,” Chief Judge Robert T. Hanson said.

“Essential proceedings such as certain criminal cases, juvenile temporary custody hearings, temporary restraining orders and injunctions, juvenile detention hearings, family violence protective orders, and certain mental health screenings “shall occur in a manner consistent with the policy of mitigating the impact of COVID-19.”

Visits with Ogle County Jail inmates are suspended until further notice, as are jail volunteer programs, and inmates will be subject to additional health screenings.

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