City halls respond differently to ’Stay Home Missouri’

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monett offices conduct business as usual, others closed

Governor Mike Parson's “Stay Home Missouri” order and how it affects essential businesses has left city governments the option to respond in their own way.

In Monett, city hall operations continue as usual. All personnel are working and employees are all at their posts.

“All of the city’s employees are considered essential for providing local government services and supporting the delivery of those services,” said City Administrator Dennis Pyle. “We’re still responsible for answering 911 calls, responding to those calls, keeping the peace, fighting fires and assisting with medical calls. We’re also responsible for electricity and fiber connections to homes and businesses, which is critically important during this time with the number of people working from home. We must also keep the water running, toilets flushing and picking up the garbage. If our employees aren’t working, these services aren’t being delivered. That’s why it’s critical that our employees and their families remain healthy.

“Monett has closed public access to all city facilities except city hall, the airport and the public parks and trails, including the golf course — the clubhouse is closed to public access. We have put in place further restrictions at city hall to where no more than two people are allowed in the collector’s office at one time. If there are more than two, customers are asked to wait in the lobby and to maintain the 6-foot separation distance. The collector’s office remains open due to the renovation a few years ago that installed full-length glass partitions at the counter which provides a physical barrier between our employees and customers. Collections office employees are also wearing personal protective equipment as an additional safeguard. We continue to regularly disinfect all hard surfaces and encourage everyone to utilize hand sanitizer in addition to washing their hands with soap and water, as often as possible.”

Pyle noted the city has taken further steps to ensure that employees and operations are not affected if a staff member becomes ill.

“We’ve got protocols in place if we have an employee test positive with COVID-19, or if they are exposed to someone who is positive so that local government continues to function seamlessly,” he said. “We have altered work schedules and meal and break times to limit interaction between employees. We continue to monitor the situation and have back-up plans if we need to further segregate our workforce. There have not been any furloughs, and we don’t anticipate any since local government is considered to be an essential service.”

Pyle noted the Federal Aviation Administration establishes guidelines for all airports in an effort to keep them safe and open to the traveling public and aircraft. He noted airports are considered essential in transporting medical and emergency equipment and personnel in a public health emergency.

Enforcing the stay-at-home order does not ultimately become a new mission for cities, Pyle said.

“Our office has received several inquiries regarding the Governor’s stay-at-home order and which businesses are considered to be essential,” he said. “That determination is made by the counties with guidance from the federal government and they have released that information to the public. It’s important to note that this is a civil order and the Monett Police Department does not have authority to enforce the regulations except through a court order. The responsibility for enforcing the stay-at-home regulations were assigned by the governor to the local public health agencies.”

Pyle directed persons with specific questions or concerns regarding the stay-at-home order to contact the Barry County Health Department at 417-847-2114 or the Lawrence County Health Department at 417-466-2201.

In Pierce City, the city hall is now only open to the public from 1-5 p.m. Utility customers are asked to drop payments in the drop box.

In Purdy, Monday was moving day to the new city hall at the former community building. City offices remain closed to the public and will continue to do so. Notice has been placed on the doors and on social media. Utility customers are urged to drop payments into the drop box. Office staff continue to work as usual.

Verona has the outer door open, but the interior door to Clerk Laura Hazelwood's desk is locked. Hazelwood said she continues to work from the office, since she needs access to the office computer with the Quickbooks program and prepares bank deposits from payments left in the drop box.

Staff at all four offices continue to field phone calls as needed.

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