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Thanks to SPARK funding, the county has 100 hand sanitizer dispensers to be distributed.

Brown County Emergency Management Director Don Pounds informed county commissioners at Tuesday’s regular commission meeting that there are still hand sanitizer stations available for local businesses.

Pounds informed commissioners last week that the county was receiving 100 hand sanitizer stations purchased with leftover SPARK funding as part of COVID-19 relief for counties. At last week’s meeting, he told commissioners he planned to accept applications from businesses in the county starting Monday of this week. At Tuesday’s meeting, he informed commissioners he had only received 16-17 applications and was disappointed he had not received more.

The hand sanitizer stations are free to any business in the county and limited to one per business. Pounds said he expected the stands for the units to arrive by next Monday and planned to get them distributed next week. He will accept applications until they are all gone.

Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl told Pounds he would provide him information to distribute to local churches through the Ministerial Alliance.

Pounds also informed the commissioners that the Health Department was planning to set up vaccine sites starting in February, based on availability of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the state.

A vaccination site for Hiawatha will be Feb. 16 at the former Hiawatha Lodge, located at 100 West Lodge Road (west of McDonald’s) for any law enforcement officers and fire department personnel in the county only.

Pounds told the commissioners that a lot of people are hesitant about getting the vaccine, which is implemented in two separate shots — 21 days apart.

“The numbers are low in the county of who wants the vaccine versus those who don’t,” Pounds said. “I am seeing that across the board.”

On Feb. 19 and 22, also at the Hiawatha Lodge, vaccines will be available for anyone age 65 and older. On Feb. 23 and 25th vaccines will be available at the Horton Armory, 444 E. 15th Ave., for anyone age 65 and older.

He said vaccines are limited at this time and local Health Departments are implementing them in the phases set out by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He said it more vaccines become available then they will add additional dates for vaccines.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, local residents Richard and Cindy Schilling talked about mask mandates with the commissioners. The Schillings said they are part of the group the Brown County Liberty Alliance, which now has 80 members, who protest not only the enforcement of masks but the role of government in private lives.

Richard Schilling thanked the commissioners for their dedicated service and said he knows that people will be approaching the commission to reinstall the mask mandate, which the commission vote to rescind Dec. 28 after it had been in effect since Nov. 16 countywide. A City of Hiawatha mask mandate was also installed in November and has remained in effect indefinitely, however was expected to be re-evaluated at the Jan. 19 regular meeting.

Schilling told the commissioners he felt that COVID-19 was something residents would just have to learn to live with, and mentioned that he found some studies that show masks don’t make that much of a difference.

“People could argue all day long about whether they work or not,” he said.

Schilling said, that as a group, the Brown County Liberty Alliance feels mask usage should be a personal choice and the responsibility of the citizens — not government responsibility to enforce.

In other business:

The January 13, 2021 payroll was approved as follows: General 79,957.65; Road & Bridge 13,125.00; Election 8,940.77; Technology 152.38; Appraiser 4,825.48; Noxious Weed 1,657.47; ACC 5,560.31; JJA Core 6,167.84; Reinvestment Grant 1,787.95; Services for Elderly 2,471.00; Solid Waste 7,052.00; Employee Ben FICA 8,696.13; Employee Ben KPERS 10,135.59; State Unemploy/Work Comp -136.03; Insurance -3,357.78; TOTAL 147,035.76.

There was discussion concerning the bid from Hamm’s. Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill advised the commissioners he had a phone call set up with the company so wanted to table any decisions until following that.

Pounds advised they were close to updating the county flood plain maps.

Bids for the Transfer Station’s door were as follows: Overhead Door Company with a bid of $7,909 and Heartland for $18,620. The commission voted to accept the bid of Overhead Door with a bid of $7,909.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl would like to advertise one more time for the Road and Bridge secretary position. The commission will review the applications again next Monday and set up interviews at that time.

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