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Local

Supervisors re-open county departments

Upon the deactivation of COOP, all except elderly nutrition resume normal operations

On Tuesday, June 23, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors officially deactivated the Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) and re-opened all departments — with the exception of elderly nutrition — under its control.
On Tuesday, June 23, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors officially deactivated the Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) and re-opened all departments — with the exception of elderly nutrition — under its control.

Editor's note: By "business as usual," the county is referring to its employees returning to their departments. Some staff, like the driver's license department and motor vehicle department, are operating in different ways. Others, like those in the treasurer's office and recorder's office, are working behind closed doors and by appointment only.

Everything is back to “business as usual” at the Jasper County Courthouse.

On Tuesday, June 23, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors officially deactivated the Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) and re-opened all departments — with the exception of one — under its control. The COOP was enacted in early March as a response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly afterward, the supervisors ordered all county buildings to remain closed; they’ve since reopened. Now that more governor-instated COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted, Jasper County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Brandon Talsma said he felt it was safe to deactivate the COOP.

However, elderly nutrition will not resume normal operations “for obvious reasons,” Talsma said, referring to participants’ ages making them the most at-risk population to contract COVID-19 illnesses.

On March 16, elderly nutrition announced it was instituting social distancing rules, shifted to home-delivered meals only and closed its congregate meal sites in Newton, Colfax and Monroe. Elderly nutrition also stopped delivering meals to the Prairie City Methodist Church.

Any ill participants were instructed to call and cancel their meal orders, according to a county press release. People who wanted meals outside their doors were to call staff for instructions or leave a note on the door telling meal deliverers not to enter. Otherwise, delivery meals were continued as normal.

After approving the COOP deactivation during its meeting, the board of supervisors later praised Elderly Nutrition Program Director Kelli Van Manen for her continued work during the pandemic. Denny Carpenter, vice-chair of the county board of supervisors, said Van Manen “did a fine job.”

“There were no complaints and that’s amazing,” Carpenter said.

From March until the end of May, Van Manen said elderly nutrition delivered an additional 4,148 home-delivered meals compared to the same time one year ago. The program’s congregate meal facilities remain closed. Since the program is social in nature, Van Manen said it would defeat the purpose to reopen now.

The pandemic itself is still ongoing, despite lifted restrictions. Van Manen also praised her staff for their hard work, too.

“I can’t say enough good things about our staff (and) volunteers that have stepped up — everybody’s ability to just adjust to what needs to be done,” Van Manen said. “We’re all tired. But who’s not?”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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