Osceola County declares state of emergency
EOC addressing issues with recent Supreme Court ruling
REED CITY -- The Osceola County Board of Commissioners extended a local state of emergency for 30 days during its recent meeting.
Osceola County Emergency Manager Mark Watkins told the board issues have come up because of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling overturning Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders regarding the COIVD-19 pandemic.
"Things were slowing down, but there have been a lot of changes in activity with the executive orders being overturned," Watkins said. "I have spent the weekend here addressing those issues."
On Oct. 2, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the governor's executive orders focused on fighting COVID-19 were illegally drawn from a 1945 law.
The Supreme Court ruling said any orders issued after April 30 "now lack any basis under Michigan law," which is when the legislature voted not to extend the state of emergency enacted by the governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Over the weekend, the plan came out that subsequent public health orders were issued, so that leaves the state legislature to figure out how they will address the issue (of COIVD-19)," Watkins said. "The guidance from the state right now is to keep on keeping on for 21 days until the executive orders drop."
Typically, a Supreme Court order is stayed for 21 days to allow the chance for reconsideration.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued its own public health orders, some of which duplicate the governor's executive orders.
Under this, certain orders, like the mask mandate, restrictions on group sizes, the workplace safeguards and others would remain in effect without the executive orders.
"We still have emergency operations we are doing," Watkins said. "With planning efforts and providing support to various agencies because of the executive orders overturned, I am requesting an extension of the local state of emergency for the next 30 days until the board meeting in November."
A local state of emergency declaration opens up resources to the county, the cities and the townships, that may not be available under normal circumstances, should they need emergency services, Watkins said.
Without it the county would have to handle the crisis through normal procedures and with current funds available.
Also during the meeting, Watkins told the board that he needed to wrap up any emergency support requests from September and asked the board for guidance on how to move forward with a request for additional compensation for employees that were not part of the hazardous pay CARES grant funding.
"If an employee was required to come in during April and May and had no option of coming in and had risk of exposure, that's what the guidelines were for us," Watkins said. "The ones I have on my list of providing emergency operations assignments are technology and maintenance. We need some guidance on how to take that request off the Emergency Operations Center board.
"I would request that we transfer that to someone else or have a discussion on how we want to resolve it," he added. "I have to close out all of those pending requests and am looking for guidance on how to handle that."
County Coordinator Susan Vander Pol said they would need to scrutinize the grants to see what eligibility there is for employees that were not eligible for the furlough program or the hazardous pay program.
"So far, when we have submitted the grant paperwork, technology has not been included," Vander Pol said. "I will have to look at the grant to see if there is some eligibility for extra compensation for those who continued to work full time. I can transfer that request and continue to work with Mark, so that he can get it off his list."
The board agreed to allow Vander Pol to look into what funds might be available to compensate those employees.
In addition, the following motions were approved by the board during the meeting:
• A motion to approve the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grant for the courts
• A motion to approve the Victims Rights FY2021 grant contract.
• A motion to accept the FY2021 Michigan Indigent Defense Commission grant contract for indigent defense;
• A motion to approve the 2020 Household Hazardous waste collection agreement and allocation of $2,500 in support.
• A motion to approve the 2020 tire and electronic collection and recycle program and allocation of $1,000 in support.
• A motion to approve the letting of the Request for Proposal for construction consultant services for the renovation of the building that was purchased for a new Reed City COA meal site and EMS training room;
• A motion to approve the letting of the Request of Bids for the purchase of a 2021 ambulance chassis remount.
• A motion to approve filling a part-time maintenance position.