By Sterling McGinn
Despite the many local cancelations from COVID-19 (Coronavirus) the Newberry Village Council held their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the village office.
Three local citizens were present, but only one spoke during the last public comment section. A large portion of the meeting revolved around the COVID-19 scare and what the village is planning as precautionary measures during this outbreak. Interim village manager Allison Watkins gave a report to the board on what her and the staff are doing to protect the public and staff.
As of Wednesday, March 18, the village office and departments were closed to the public. Garbage stickers are still available for purchase at the office. Citizens will have to knock on the office door and show their ID for name and address. The tickets will only be sold in increments of five and staff will pass them to the customer through the mail slot.
A bill for the stickers will be sent to their residence so there will be no exchange of money. Stickers can still be purchased at the three banking institutions in town.
Residents can pay their bills by sending a check or money order through the mail, or by using the drop box on the east end of the Water and Light building, or through the mail slot on the door of the Village office.
Credit card and debit card payments may be made via phone (906-356-3023) or using online payment. Currently, utility bills can still be paid at the three financial institutions in town.
Utility payment processing procedures and payment deadlines are continuing as normal until further notice. Due to the current circumstances, social service agencies providing assistance may have longer wait periods.
Individuals needing assistance are advised to begin their requests now for current past due amounts. A list of agencies can be found on any Village utility bill.
For other services like creating a new account or closing an account, etc., call the office at 293-5681 for instructions. Individuals who need to visit the village office should be prepared to provide documents through the mail slot in the door and wait in their vehicles for any information to be processed.
Please call the appropriate department to get help during this period of closure:
Water, Sewer, Electric services and Billing 293-5681
New accounts, closing accounts 293-5681
Garbage services 293-3433
General questions 293-3433
The council also discussed options if meetings cannot be held. “The concern with a lot of municipalities, especially those under the general law village act, is how do we conduct business with a council if there is a statewide quarantine,” stated Watkins. “Right now the open meeting act does not allow you to deliberate as a public body without the public being able to at least listen and give opinion.”
Watkins told the board that the Marquette City Council streamed the meeting through Channel Nine and Youtube. “They also have a phone system that people call and listen and ask questions when it’s time,” she explained. “One of things we will be looking at over the next couple of days is how we can set something up so we can make sure we are in the law.”
Other items on the agenda included the DNR TORC grant close out. The final $30,000 reimbursement was received.
Construction of the new maintenance building was also discussed. The council voted to award the bid package to McGahey Construction at a cost not exceeding $401,478.