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State of emergency issued as COVID-19 closes govt. buildings

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HARTINGTON — The Hartington City Council Monday declared a State of Emergency, opening the door for state and federal assistance should it be needed.

The action was called for by Mayor Mark Becker who met with Cedar County Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Garvin last week to discuss the issue.

“By making this declaration, it just makes it a lot easier for us to move along if something bad happens,” 

The declaration states that, “the city of Hartington is in the middle of a pandemic disease outbreak affecting the United States from the coronavirus. The pandemic causes endangerment of health and safety of the citizens of the city of Hartington. Therefore the Mayor of the city of Hartington, upon recommendation of the County Emergency Manager, has declared an emergency under Neb. Statute  RRS81-829.50 on behalf of the city of Hartington and will execute for the city of Hartington, the expenditure of emergency funds from all available sources and will cause the invoking of mutual aid agreements, and the application to the state of Nebraska for assistance from the Governor’s emergency fund and any other resources he deems necessary in the fulfillment of his duties.”

Last week, the city announced the closure of several city buildings.

The Cedar County Courthouse and Lewis and Clark NRD office are also closed to the public.

The City Auditorium will remain closed until further notice. The Hartington City Office has also closed its lobby, but staff are still on hand to conduct city business and assist people through email and phone calls.

“It is important during this time that we remain calm and proactive in protecting our community, family and friends,” said Mayor Mark Becker. “I appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation.” 

Hartington Public Library Director Tami Anderson said that until further notice, the facility will not be open to the general public.

Anderson said the building is closed, but staff is still available by phone and email to assist patrons.

Anyone wishing to still check out books can do so by looking through the Hartington Public Library’s online catalog. Curb-side pickup will then be available in the back parking lot. 

Mayor Becker said the city will continue to provide essential services such as water, wastewater, fire protection and EMS services. 

He has been meeting with local, county and state officials about the pandemic.

“One of the things that got my attention was the idea of getting protection for our EMTs and firemen in case of an emergency. The Governor did not have an answer for that, but said  he’d look into it.”

Becker asked Council members if they felt these emergency personnel were adequately protected against the virus, but no one could answer that.

Becker also noted the City Council will also continue to have meetings, and these will continue to be open to the public, but due to CDC recommendations, adjustments may have to be made.

He floated the idea of limiting city meetings to one a month, and possibly using Zoom, or other programs to meet via an electronic teleconference.

Anderson said last week the library’s public wifi can also be accessed from the back parking lot. The book return box near the back door can also be used. 

All library materials will be disinfected upon return.