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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes May 26, 2020 2285
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 63°
Roll call via team viewer was taken at 0900 with all three Commissioners present.
Approval of Minutes –
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the May 19, 2020 meeting minutes. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
EMA Update –
EMA Director Michelle LaBree reported the following:
Director LaBree thanked Deputy Director Brad Nuding for all his work completing the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Grant. This grant was submitted for approval Friday with (5) municipalities and the County included for funding in the request.
The State is getting the EMOG-S Supplemental Grant - MEMA has initiated a work group to determine how these funds will be disbursed. Michelle is on the work group and the first conference call will be this Friday. It looks like the deadline to apply for funds will be mid-June.
Since the state has increased the capacity for testing for COVID- we have seen an increase in requests for the swabs and transport media from area hospitals. Last week the CDC informed all Nursing homes and assisted care facilities that they too could request these testing supplies and to contact their local EMA office.
Director LaBree stated that there are 165 critical care beds and 242 ventilators available.
Ms. LaBree and Commissioners talked about current COVID cases within Penobscot County and the concern the County is not being allowed to open up. Michelle stated she would certainly draft a letter to the CDC from EMA & Commissioners requesting our County to be considered to reopen if it is not slated for June 1.
NWDB Update –
NWDB Director Joanna Russell reported the following activities currently going on:
Due to COVID 19 the Northeastern Workforce Development Board in collaboration with the Chief Elected Officials have decided to postpone their procurement process for the WIOA Adult and Dislocated Workers and WIOA Youth Contracts.
o The NWDB Executive Committee met March 23 to discuss concerns related to the ongoing procurement process & how it has been impacted due to the Pandemic.
o Discussions included the impact on the labor market information and service delivery.
o Also noted was the unemployment rate. At the time when bidders submitted their proposals it was at a record low, and within weeks we were at a record high. The USDOL was rapidly changing unemployment policies and procuring emergency grants, waiving the waiting period to receive benefits and waiving search requirements for job seekers. These actions have never been done before. The current economy was crashing which meant our workforce system was going to be in high demand and would need a lot of adjusting to an extent that was unknown. The bidders did not have a chance to develop program services and resources to address the current labor market conditions today. The crisis continues to change our working environment.
o The executive committee agreed to postpone the bid due to the conditions and adjustments that would need to happen. A motion was passed to extend the WIOA contract for one year with the two current service providers (EMDC and ACAP) and the executive committee will revisit the labor market conditions in six months (September 23, 2020). Chief Elected Officials all agreed to support the executive committee’s recommendations. NWDB voted unanimously to approve the motion to postpone the procurement. EMDC and ACAP will remain in place until further notice.
The National Emergency Grant – Connections to Opportunities: The NWDB received a contract from MDOL with allocation of a third of the full contract funding and will provide additional funding as needed.
The hiring process for the new County of Penobscot Project Coordinator took place last Wednesday. A conditional job offer was made contingent on reference checks and agreement on salary. If all works out, the new candidate will start June 15th. The candidate is aware that this position is under a two-year grant and will continue as long as funding is available.
Maine DOL submitted a proposal for two companies in Maine for a possible National Emergency Grant funds. Puritan Medical Products based out of Gilford, produces the medical swabs used for testing COVID-19. They have begun construction on a new site in Pittsfield through Cianbro and are projected to hire over 200 new employees in the next three months. NWDB in partnership with EDMC will provide support and services to Puritan throughout their expansion efforts. We are still awaiting word from MDOL on the outcome.
Commissioner Baldacci asked Director Russell what, if any role, NWDB is working on with the unemployment process. When possible the NWDB executive director and its service provider Eastern Maine Development Corporation provide direct connections to the right information links and in a few cases have helped customers struggling with the unemployment registration obtain help from MDOL representatives.
NWDB quarterly board meeting is June 11 via Zoom. This meeting will provide an informational workshop for board members when job seekers come into the system.
UT Update –
UT Director Shaw Weeks and Deputy George Buswell reported the following:
Director Weeks will be talking with OTELCO regarding the Argyle Broadband expansion and will report next week on the decisions.
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the 2020 Summer Road Work Projects as presented. Commissioner Baldacci seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 2-0. (Note Commissioner Cushing lost his Teamviewer Connection)
The salt bid solicitation for the upcoming winter is going out today. The bid opening for these bids will be Tuesday, June 16th. (Commissioner Cushing reconnected).
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve a letter of support to Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters to construct trails that will access group and single tenting spots for users in T3R7. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
There was discussion on correspondence received from Chief Aaron Lee, Medway Fire Department. Chief Lee is requesting reconsideration in paying an invoice previously submitted on an incident that occurred March 16th. On April 28, Commissioners voted to decline payment. After discussion, Commissioner Cushing made a motion to pay $1,018 from UT funds for an incident that occurred on March 16 in the unorganized territory. Commissioner Sanborn seconded he motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Penobscot County Opening Plan –
Human Relations Director Erika Honey and Administrator Bill Collins reported the following:
All departments have provided contact information (telephone and website); inter-office protocols, and employee shifts that will be posted online and on entry doors.
Employees of Penobscot County will need to wear a cloth mask when in any common area of the building where others are present and when dealing directly with the public.
Members of the Public will need to enter and exit the County Building utilizing the entrance of Hammond Street. The public will utilize the call button located in the lobby and will need to have an appointment or purpose for entering.
The public will still be encouraged to conduct business by phone/drop box/email if possible. Departments will schedule appointments with the public for those wishing to come into the building to limit the number of people in the building/offices at any given time.
Members of the public entering the building will be required to wear a mask. Disposable masks will be available and distributed to those who do not have a mask upon entry.
Staff, vendors and visitors must maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not part of their household group whenever possible.
For contact tracing purposes, Departments will keep a record including information for visitors and staff who have had direct prolonged interaction.
Vendors/service providers will be asked to schedule appointments and wear a mask.
Areas outside of offices will be marked to indicate proper spacing distances.
Hand sanitizing stations and bottles are in multiple areas for use by staff, public and vendors.
Any individual who is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, will be requested to stay at home.
Common area door handles, elevator buttons, stair railings, etc. will be disinfected several times daily once the public is allowed to enter the buildings freely; until that time, it is requested that anyone allowing individuals into the building for an appointment take a moment to wipe down the front door handle, elevator buttons, etc. after the individual leave.
Face-to-face meetings will be limited and will maintain social distancing.
A complete Public Opening Guidelines will be posted on our Website and Facebook.
Commissioners Sanborn moved to hold next week’s meeting via Team Viewer with live stream. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the plan as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Administration Update –
Administrator Bill Collins reported the following:
Sheriff’s Office –
o Today’s jail population is 121 in house (100 males, 21 females); 33 boarded out to other county jails; no US Marshalls; and just under 100 in Pre-trial services.
o MSA is still meeting with MDOC regarding the Governors Orders on holding the States inmates.
o Calls for service in Patrol has been busy this week with a fatal crash investigation and a large drug seizure. They are finishing up on virtual interviews for the one patrol position.
o The Civil Department work has increased, but not completely opened up.
o In regards to a citizens questions that were emailed to the Sheriff:
How many inmates/employees have been tested for COVID-19? As of Friday, May 22 there have been 5 inmates and 5 employees tested. All have come back negative.
How are you ensuring that all employees are checked for symptoms of COVID-19? Before anyone (public, bail commissioners, staff, service providers, & police officers) enters the building they are screened by medical.
How many staff members have been sent home because of exhibiting symptoms? There have been zero employees sent home. Both HR and Medical have given explicit instructions for employees to stay home if not feeling well.
Was misinformation sent to staff by administration on April 24 and has best practices shared and passed on? Guidelines have been adjusted in our facility similar to the entire nation. As best practices have been developed and shared, they have been passed on. As noted by the experts these changes can be challenging.
The message requests that all written material/communications regarding COVID-19 be passed on. The community has a strong need to know. Internal directives involving jail operations are not allowed to be released. We’ve spoken publicly with how we are responding to COVID-19 and we are following best practices by doing the following:
Cleaning and Supplies
Movement and Housing
The General Unit contract has been signed, and Sylvia Hebert representing AFSCME has received her copy.
Information was received from a variety of paving projects up in the Argyle, Old Town and northern Penobscot County areas.
Finance Director Judy Alexander and Administrator Collins have been working with Machias Savings Bank in order to get our account contacts up to date.
Commissioner Baldacci spoke to our July 14th referendum for our Radio Project Bond; we need to have a schedule of what hearings in the district. Judy is compiling email addresses of all budget committee members so that we can set up remote meetings. Then when the building opens, we can schedule a public meeting.
Commissioner Baldacci continued that we should discuss the jail issue and the potential bond. With the current COVID-19 situation Commissioner Baldacci feels the renovation project should be placed on hold since it doesn’t make sense at this time. The bond question should not be on the ballot in November. After some discussion the Commissioners say they will revisit the overall plan for any expansion or relocation of the county jail to determine what is most practical. They will be soliciting the building committee and public input in the future when in-person meetings can be held.
Treasurer John Hiatt was requesting Penobscot County Republican’s be allowed to use the Commissioners Chambers this Thursday evening for a meeting. Request denied as our building is closed until June 2. Once re-opened a meeting can then be scheduled.
Payroll Change Notices signed for: NONE
Commissioner Cushing made a motion to approve the payroll and accounts payable warrants as presented. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Payroll Warrant to be approved for May 22: $238,604.09
Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for May 26: $30,182.22
Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for May 26: $24,748.65
Unorganized Territory TIF Warrant to be approved for May 26: $5,492.91
Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:13 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0
Administrator, William Collins
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner