City Wades Through Pandemic

By ERIC X. VICCARO

[email protected]

Discussions surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continue at Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen meetings.

During his city administrator’s report, Happy Welch noted how city staff have been handling these issues.

Welch said, “we are recovering from our COVID-19 quarantines, and are just about to full strength,” as noted in the report dated Dec. 10, submitted before the regular board of aldermen meeting that night.

The administrator said visitors are still required to wear masks – and when in group settings for more than 15 minutes.

Welch said Zoom teleconferencing availability with boards and commissions will be a focal point even as the calendar flips from 2020 to 2021 – and with vaccines soon coming to Ste. Genevieve County.

“I think we’ve encountered the same problems as other businesses,” Welch said during a telephone conversation with the Herald on Dec. 18.

“We’ve had to make decisions on the fly,” he continued. “We’ve isolated people, had people stay home and remotely work. We’re getting through it, and we have handled it the best we could.”

There were impacts among the staff as well as unnamed personnel in the police department; however, all shifts were comfortably covered, Welch noted.

Levee Board District No. 3 member  Bob Eck  would not wear a mask for the regular December meeting. Eck also was given the option to participate via the Zoom teleconferencing option, but he didn’t take advantage of that either.

During the most recent board meeting, in light of the pandemic, it was somewhat  surprising to see six of the aldermen present in person.

Susie Johnson, Ward 1 alderwoman was the lone board member to participate in the meeting via Zoom.

Welch reported three other people attended the teleconference: Ron Smith from Alliance, Ryan Gates with Cochran Engineering and Ste. Genevieve Planning and Zoning Commission member Gina Bryant.

There were several other topics in Welch’s report to the aldermen, leading off with completion of the Washington Street retaining wall — save for soon-to-be delivered fencing.

Cut ‘N’ Edge of Ste. Genevieve was awarded a bid to remove boxwoods along Market Street in front of the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park Welcome Center. Plants had grown into the sidewalk, and there were problems with stinging insects.

Welch said he’s still finalizing who will be named the city’s information technology consultant. Also, a recommendation will be made to the board at its next meeting concerning a landscape contractor for the weed/grass violation program.

City Hall is still seeking a part-time cleaning person to replace Norma Basler, who recently retired from handling those duties after 36 years. A cleaner is needed four hours per week.

As part of the Christmas holiday, employees received a $30 safety bonus. However, the city still needs to enact a policy for safety bonuses, which will be included in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget presentation.