County buildings now open to the public

Executive decision made by BOC chairman and emergency management director

REED CITY -- According to Osceola County Controller Susan Vander Pol, a decision has been made to fully open county general buildings to the public on Wednesday, June 24th.

"The decision was made as an executive directive via the Board of Commissioners Chairman, Jack Nehmer, under the authority of the Osceola County Emergency Management Act," Vander Pol said. "Guidance was established by the Osceola County Emergency Plan, in accordance with the objectives established under the 2020-COVID19 response plan, and has been coordinated with local officials."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's extention of the State of Emergency would have delayed the buildings opening until July, she said.

In a statement from the BOC, chairman Jack Nehmer said, "Although a motion was cast at the June 16 BOC meeting, directing the opening to the public contingent on the termination of the governor's state of emergency, I was presented with information that convinced me that further significant delay of opening is contracry to the needs of the public and contrary to the objectives of stabilizing the COVID-19 incident and mitigating further impacts to the residents of Osceola County.

"Osceola County general offices are not restricted from public opening due to any executive order and have an adequate plan to safely conduct public operations amid the COVID-19 environent. The self-imposed limitation of opening was made under unavoidable, unfortunate, and inaccurate information that significantly changed upon the extention of the state of emergency," he continued. "This state of emergency may continue for a significant and unknown amount of time and was not intended to have a negative impact."

"It was determined this wasn't in the best interest of the public and those the county serves," Vander Pol said. "The board chairman has authority to make decisions, such as this, under the County Emergency Management Act and offices are allowed to be open in Phase 4 of the governor's reopening plan, following guidance in the issued executive orders."

The opening date of June 24 was determined to allow for adequate notification of county offices and staff, and to allow for final building details to be addressed, Nehmer said.

"This directive is intended for county general offices and excludes parks, courts, the Commission on Aging, and other state agencies falling under separate guidelines or board motions," he added.

According to the county's phased reopening plan, the public will be required to answer basic COVID-19 questions upon entering the building, wear a mask while in any county buildings, and maintain safe self-distancing requirements to conduct in person business.