Masks again dominated comments from the public at the regular Thursday meeting of the Dickinson County Commission.

The county is still under a mask order by the Dickinson County Health officer, although the commission removed any penalties to businesses or individuals for violating the order to wear face and nose coverings in public places.

At Thursday’s regular meeting, several individuals asked the commission to go one step further and remove the order entirely.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin reported the commission received 25 comments through email.

“We do continue to get comments. That is our opportunity to get a pulse of the discussions going on in the community,” said Chairman Lynn Peterson. “I know there are people on both sides of the issue. I have had several people say that as a community or any group that is divided, it is difficult to solve problems.”

County Administrator Brad Homman said 20 of those emails supported the mask mandate. The other five were against the requirement.

Those from the public that attended the meeting thanked the commission for removing penalties for those not adhering to the mask order.

 

“Masquerade”

Brian Harris thanked the commissioners for “doing the right thing and not making citizens criminal for wearing what I call a masquerade.”

Harris asked the commission to “take the next step.”

“Just eliminate this, again I will say masquerade, that is playing politics with our health of requiring a mask everywhere,” he said. “Bottom line is, I ask you to do the right thing. Do the next step. Do the smart thing and get rid of the politics.”

He said the mask has caused mental problems.

He said the use of sanitizers “is a great thing.”

Laurie Megan Armstrong told the commission she was concerned about upcoming tracking devices.

“This is a much bigger issue than will I wear a piece of fabric on my face,” she said.

“I do care about our community. Right now, one in four of our seniors over the age of 80 will die from this. That is where our focus is. One in seven over 65 will die from this. That is the county number,” she said.

Kevin Harris said in other counties the rules for schools are much different than in Dickinson County.

“To me they take a more commonsense approach,” he said. “If they have someone that is diagnosed with COVID in the classroom, they are doing the separations like that, but they don’t send the whole classroom home. They monitor and let the rest stay in school.

“The hurt that we have had with the education system, being a former teacher myself, is long term,” he said.

Greg Wilson said that Jackson and Brown counties canceled their mask mandates.

“It’s happening and it’s going to continue to happen,” he said.

 

Vitamin drive

Gina Dalton who spearheaded a drive to provide vitamins to boost the immunity to COVID-19 said the first phase was complete.

“We did receive the first 500. We had a group of about 32 people in less than 30 minutes bag them up for schools,” she said. “They have been delivered to Solomon, Abilene, Herington and Hope.”

Dalton said another 1,000 vitamin packages are scheduled to arrive soon.

Grants from the Kansas Leadership Center, Community Foundation of Dickinson County, Mary Eisenhower and the Dickinson County Commission funded the $17,000 project.

Harris said the vitamins should have been distributed in the very beginning of the pandemic.

“Not hide behind a mask that does not stop a disease,” he said. “Take the vitamins to build your immune system.”

 

Courthouse

The commission unanimously approved a bid of $5.6 million for the courthouse renovation of the jail project.

Homman said adjustments were made to the 1950s elevator to save money.

“Because the elevator shaft was an odd size, with a little bit of modification by the construction managing company, we can put a standard size elevator in there for $80,000 less,” he said. “There were some processes to work through similar to that. Obviously, the price of things has gone up over the last year when it comes to metal and to construction trades.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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