Due to a tense July board meeting in the town of Osceola, a request for a public apology to staff was made prompting the Aug. 4 monthly meeting to withhold public comment.
This has been a culmination of several months of contention between the board, town staff and residents causing the board to address and mitigate the issues involved in hopes of quelling tensions between the town and its constituents.
“There were things said that should not have been said in public,” said Chairman Doug Schmidt. “They should have been said under closed session and they didn’t. There were a lot of feelings and contempt, and I would like to ask the board if they could possibly meet in closed session to discuss some of those issues.” A five-minute recess was called to address public outbursts made against the no-public comment mandate for the August meeting. Once back in session, the board scheduled a closed session meeting Aug. 13 to address apologies to staff, staffing in general, and other issues that arose at the July meeting.
A letter was drafted to be sent to CenturyLink in the hopes of upgrading or improving the general Internet connection in the town of Osceola.
Due to COVID-19, many residents are working from home, and with the upcoming school year in question, the need for quality Internet connection is crucial. Because of this, the board motioned to create a resolution to make a finalized letter to send to CenturyLink.
Also in concern of COVID-19, the board discussed the guidelines that may be placed during the November election. One recommendation was to move the voting to the garage in accordance with social distancing guidelines. However, election official for the town, Jo Everson, expressed her thoughts that it may be unnecessary to move the voting to the garage due to the number of absentee, in-house voting and cold-temperatures as well. No action was taken on this matter, but it will likely be a continued topic coming closer to the November election.
Before the meeting adjourned, supervisor Brandon Whittaker requested that public comment be returned to the September board meeting along with other agenda items that were left off the August meeting including Concentrated Animal Farming Operations (CAFOs), Eagle Bluff Ridge, town social media policies, and school board attendance at town of Osceola meetings.
• Due to $2000 total in checks that were issued to the Sand Lake Cemetery, Whittaker requested that the board request explanations and/or official requests from Sand Lake and any other future cemeteries that may receive funding from the Town of Osceola. This may include the presence of personnel involved at town board meetings, information as to why the money is needed, and their personal budgets. “We’re hard on money right now – everyone knows that,” Whittaker said. “If we’re going to grant someone money, we should know what kind of money they have.”
• Due to public request, the board and Osceola residents heard the first monthly treasurer’s progress report. The request for these updates was made by the town electorate after the hiring of former clerk/treasurer Lorraine Rugroden, to help train in and help current treasurer, Chris Stevens. According to the treasurer’s report, Rugroden and Stevens entered deposits and auto-pays into QuickBooks to get caught up, submitted a Q2 report to the state, and submitted municipal dog licenses to residents for last month.
• Two members of the Osceola planning commission are leaving; Schmidt commented that the board would need to find and approve new members.