Members of the Montgomery County Board held a special teleconference meeting on Friday evening, April 3.
Board members Chuck Graden and Richard Wendel were absent from the call.
After calling the meeting to order Chris-Mont Emergency Management Agency Director Greg Nimmo provided an update to the board about the response of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Montgomery County has three positive cases at this time, including one death.
Board members approved extending the disaster declaration in Montgomery County until May 12. This allows the county to apply for disaster relief funds from FEMA.
County Treasurer Nikki Lohman said she is keeping track separately of all COVID-19 expenses the county is incurring for a chance at reimbursement from the federal government. For example, Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder Sandy Leitheiser had to purchase additional disinfectant and hand sanitizer for the March primary election, and the county had to order more laptops in order for employees to work from home.
Board member Jeremy Jones asked if all the reimbursement would come from FEMA or if there was a chance to get some from the state of Illinois as well. He added that he saw lots of state grants listed recently. Nimmo said there are a lot of them out there right now, and they have teamed up with the Christian County Economic Development for that purpose. Chairman Evan Young said that at this point, they haven’t had a chance to total up all the expenses incurred yet.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Jake Fleming of Spears Title Company in Hillsboro, raised a concern about not being able to access public records in the county clerk’s office.
“I just want to thank everyone for doing a great job in a weird, once-in-a-lifetime situation,” Fleming told the board. However, he wondered if the county would consider offering reduced hours or appointments to look at public records, like land deeds.
“I know you want to protect your staff, but people still have to do essential things,” he said. “Without access to those records, they can’t buy a home.”
Young said the county was still doing its best to figure out the best options.
“We’re not giving up on anybody yet,” he said. “We should know before long if this thing is going to fizzle away or blow up. Until then, our approach is the safest, and we will do it for a little bit longer at least.”
Fleming asked how long “a little bit longer” was, and Young said he would be meeting with office holders at the end of the week for an update.
“You have been very responsive to my comments, and you all are doing a great job,” he told the board. Jones added that customers may still mail documents into the county clerk’s office as someone comes in once a week to file documents. Young said customers may also do online searches, but at this time, the files only go back to 1981.
Board member Glenn Bishop noted that fellow board member Richard Wendel had lost his wife at the end of March, and asked if the county could send flowers or a meat tray. Young said it had already been taken care of, and that anyone wishing to send a personal memorial could do so to Crabtree Cemetery.
Young reminded that all April committee meetings are cancelled. The next full board meeting will be Tuesday evening, April 14, beginning at 5:30 p.m. by teleconference.