By Randy Neumann, Todd County Commissioner
It was sad to see the newspaper form of the Osakis Review discontinue. I understand with today’s technology you can get information on your smart phone and iPad. I am one who will miss the paper form of our local news and sports.
So last time I wrote, the Minnesota governor had declared a stay-at-home order to be in effect from March 27 to Friday, April 10 and the closure of bars, restaurants, hair salons and bar shops until May 1. As I write this, June 1 is a week away and the bars and restaurants are still closed for indoor dining, and I could really use a haircut.
What I cannot understand is that our small business is the heart and soul of our country. They are like “Cheers” where everyone knows your name and they have worked hard to build that business and support their families and our communities, yet they cannot open.
Our churches have not been able to have in-person services yet go to the big box stores and see hundreds of people, and that’s OK. Am I concerned about COVID-19? Yes, I am – just look at how it affects our elderly. Both my wife and I have a parent that is in a nursing home, hers is in Ely, mine in Osakis. The hardest part is that physical contact of holding their hand, eye contact and just being with them. We are not the only family dealing with this separation of our parents or loved ones. My family cannot thank the staff at Galeon enough for what they are doing for Dad in our absence.
In Todd County news, the County Board sent out a survey asking four questions. We had 781 responses and 315 comments.
1. Do you live or work in Todd County? 744 yes to 37 no.
2. What do you think of the decision to keep bars, restaurants, salons and other public entertainment temporarily closed through May 31? 345 Strongly disagree, 156 disagree, 137 strongly agree, 86 agree and 54 neither agree nor disagree.
3. Do you believe Todd County citizens and businesses have acted responsibly in taking the necessary precautions, as directed by the Minnesota Department of Health, during the COVID 19 pandemic? 674 Yes and 102 No.
4. Do you believe Todd County citizens and businesses would continue to act responsibly if bars, restaurants, salons and other public entertainment reopened at this time? 575 yes and 204 No.
We had 315 comments on this survey, many in favor of reopening and some not. We really appreciated them taking time to do the survey and send comments.
The commissioners had a good discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic at our May 19 County Board meeting. I believe we were all in agreement that we needed to support our local businesses. People want and need to get back to work. So we decided to draw a line at our June 2 meeting waiting to see what the governor will do June 1. We also sent a letter to the governor, it will be hand delivered by Rep. Poston. The letter states: We strongly encourage that you allow those businesses and entities with a business plan prepared to open immediately. If they do not have this opportunity now, they will not survive, and the economic impact will be irreversible. We await his response.
Other news: We have increased cases of COVID-19 in Todd County as they just started testing Long Prairie Packing for the past couple weeks. When this all started back in March my question was how many test kits were available in Todd County? I was told zero. So now the State of Minnesota Department of Health is testing in Todd County. My beef is, as of today May 26, we have 214 cases in Todd County. Now, remember that some of the 214 people were diagnosed three weeks ago, so the numbers are misleading. If you no longer have symptoms, why are you still listed as having COVID-19? Believe me, I have asked this question to our state representatives and our Todd County Public Health director and no one can answer this. The MDH is in total charge of all testing, background checks and reporting. Our county staff has been doing updates from the state to the public with as much information as they will give them.
Work on the Expo Building is moving along. The $750,000 improvements included new exterior steel siding and a new steel roof, which I will update more on in my next article.
I have had no word as to the Todd County Fair, if it is canceled or not.
There is also a Sauk River Watershed manager position up in June. If interested in being a manager, please contact either the Todd County Auditor/Treasure or the Todd County Coordinator.
Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.