County board discusses Ebola readiness

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The Monroe County Board on Monday approved a proclamation designating November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. A support group known as “In the Moment” meets monthly at Oak Hill in Waterloo to provide resources to families and caregivers. Presenting the proclamation are, in back, Julia Olszewski, Director of Oak Hill’s Whispering Pines Alzheimer’s facility, and Marla Eggemeyer Zielinski, who is standing by a family member suffering from the disease. Approving the proclamation were commissioners Mike Kovarik, Delbert Wittenauer and Terry Liefer. (Alan Dooley photo)

Plans to enable emergency personnel to deal with future possible cases of Ebola that might emerge were outlined during Monday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board.

Monroe County Ambulance Service Director Carla Heise discussed training and preparations that might be employed by emergency responders. She said Memorial Hospital in Belleville has a team ready to meet and move possible Ebola patients.

Heise also said information from state and federal sources is coming in virtually daily. She emphasized that this is prudent preparation and that no cases of Ebola have been reported in the county or Illinois.

Monroe County Health Department Director John Wagner, when contacted by the Republic-Times, agreed that a lot of information is being shared.  He noted that the discussions are wise, but that while there may be a case or two more involving travelers coming from Africa, in the country, there is an extreme unlikelihood of an outbreak in the U.S.

Wagner said much planning at this time involves defining roles for various agencies and bodies for any events.

In other news from the meeting:

•The East-West Gateway Council of Governments recently announced that Monroe County has been selected to receive a 2014 Outstanding Local Government Achievement Award for Exemplary Accomplishment by a Local Government Jurisdiction, which will be presented at the East-West Gateway annual meeting and lunch on Nov. 14. This award is for Monroe County’s recent adoption of an interoperable emergency communications system.

•The board was informed that the Illinois Department of Transportation  has appropriated $500,000 from the Motor Fuels Tax to Monroe County for maintenance and upkeep of county roads. This is broken down into $171,000 for materials and $329,000 for labor.  Funds are for such items as plowing during the coming winter.

•County Engineer Aaron Metzger told commissioners that county crews have been picking up and stockpiling cinders from the power plant at Baldwin for winter road maintenance.

•Metzger also informed commissioners that work is nearly complete on Long Lake Road Bridge near Fults and that payments of $133,875 have been made.

•Commissioners discussed plans to ensure the county is indemnified for liabilities by users of county properties such as the Salem-Baum Church and Miles Cemetery.  While liabilities stemming from an individual visit are covered under regular insurance, the commissioners saw a need to develop policies for groups, such as the recent series of weddings conducted in the old Salem-Baum Church as recently reported in the Republic-Times. Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenauer emphasized that the board was only seeking to protect the county, and that individual facility boards could set their own policies for fees and permits.

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