Franklin Council holds emergency meeting

By Denise Bonsack, Publisher

An Emergency Meeting of the Franklin City Council was held on Thursday, March 19, via teleconference to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambulance Directory Beth McCorquodale stated that precautions are in place for the ambulance. Dispatch has new regulations and extra screening will be done to prepare for transfers. Both EMT’s and patients will wear masks. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) has extended EMT licensure renewals due March 31st to June 30th. McCorquodale is hoping the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB) will follow suit because we have EMT’s that need training they can’t get due to the pandemic.

Wiese and Menk inquired as to whether or not the Fire Department could still hold meetings. Pederson explained that they are deemed essential and should still meet but they are to make safety a priority and use social distancing when at all possible.

Deming had someone willing to donate funds for hand sanitizer or other needs. The ambulance has already expended money for necessary supplies, so he will suggest they donate funds to the ambulance department.

Pederson was asked if the city will consider suspending utility disconnections for residents directly impacted by the pandemic. The council determined that the city will conduct business as usual for now and the issue will be addressed on a case-by-case basis going forward. Payment plans may be implemented, but the topic will be addressed again at the April meeting. 

Pederson presented Resolution 2020-04, Declaring a Local Emergency, to extend Mayor Sherman’s emergency declaration throughout the pandemic. Council approved the resolution.

County Assessor, Doug Bruns questioned holding the Board of Review at the City Hall on April 7, 2020, noting the door could remain locked and people with questions could phone in or be screened prior to the meeting. Council felt the meeting should remain in Franklin with the Assessor present as indicated. For now, the city has put a “soft close” in place, but as time goes on may lock the door and screen people before allowing them in. Councilor Kokesch suggested following Renville County’s lead and, if needed, adjustments can be made. Safety is the number one concern. 

Finally, Pederson noted that if she should become ill for an extended period of time, she could try to do essential jobs like payroll and utility billings from home or could try to walk someone through the process.

Public works Director Kevin Kokesch commended the council for their forward thinking to address this issue before it becomes critical. He is following social distancing and questioned wearing a mask and gloves if this progresses. He was directed to get or use whatever personal protective equipment he needs. Kokesch will not be entering any homes for repairs unless it is deemed an emergency and will not put him at risk. If he becomes ill for an extended period of time, he has been in contact with neighboring cities, Bolton and Menk, MN Rural Water, Tonja Miller and others, and feels someone will step in and help. He and Pederson will extend help to other neighboring cities should they be in need as well. 

Kokesch asked the council to consider what they would choose to do with the park bathrooms if this continues into spring and summer. Council felt that could be addressed at future meetings.

As the meeting came to a close, the group acknowledged that no one knows what this pandemic will bring, but every effort will be made to support each other and to keep everyone safe.


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