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County Board Votes To Not Mandate COVID Vaccines Or Tests; Approves New Computer Security Upgrades

By Jake Leonard

The January 19 meeting of the Madison County Board started with a session of the County Board of Health.

In public comments, Peggy Flach spoke regarding her embarrassment as a Madison County resident regarding COVID-19 and the ongoing partisan bashing on the board when speaking in opposition to a resolution to denounce vaccine mandates, mandatory testing, employment terminations, and exclusions.

Allison LaMothe was next to speak in opposition to the proposed resolution, specifying information about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in her remarks. She also referenced a student petition among students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in protest of a recent declaration to return to in-person learning.

Byron Hotson was the next to speak in opposition after two others were not present in person or via phone to speak. He noted his previous involvement in speaking about COVID-19 mitigation over the past six months but chose to speak on 501c3 organizations (with questionable funding sources) speaking anti-vaccine and anti-mask talking points among other social programming like being against LGBTQ rights and 5G being the cause of COVID-19. Hottson referenced the QAnon movement as one of the primary sources of disinformation. He concluded that the resolution would pass, clearly in bad faith.

Sherri Lempkin, a registered nurse of 24 years, was the first to speak in favor of the resolution. She explicitly stated that she is not anti-vaccine, but rather anti-mandate. Lempkin stated that informed consent is the pillar of the healthcare system, and it relies on the ethics and legal obligation of medical practitioners based on the patient’s right to appropriate healthcare, including the right to refuse. She also referenced that she had requested a religious exemption from her employer, only to be rejected in wrongful judgment of her closely-held beliefs. It was later approved upon appeal.

Kathleen Ramsey was next to speak in support of the resolution. She pointed to the invalid figures in COVID-19 deaths among other remarks.

Wanda Cerney was the final speaker supporting the resolution. Cerney specified that no governmental body can mandate vaccines, citing that mandates and executive orders do not have the effect of law. She addressed several other remarks during her time on the podium. Like Flach, Cerney spoke well past her allotted three minutes in violation of board rules relating to public comments.

Board President Kurt Prenzler was about to introduce the resolution before the board. It was motioned and seconded, entering discussion.

An amendment was proposed, adding additional language to the resolution. There was a line of questioning and some remarks in relation to the amendment. During discussion of the amendment and general motion, while it will be a non-binding resolution for Madison County employers but will be bind for Madison County governmental employees. It will not result in any changes to the county employee manual.

Both motions in relation to the amendment and general motion passed. With nothing else up for discussion, the board was adjourned and reconvened to the full county board meeting.

The following appointments were presented and approved by the county board:

•Canteen Creek Drainage and Levee District: James Trucano for a new three-year term. Trucano’s term ended September 6, 2021, and the new term will expire on the same date in 2024.

•Wood River Drainage and Levee District: Anthony Roberts to serve the remainder of Nick Mason’s term, which ends May 3, 2024. Mason’s seat had become vacant due to his passing away.

•Glen Carbon Fire Protection District: Frank Dunn to serve the remainder of Christopher Otto’s term. Otto resigned from his seat on January 1. The term expires on May 1, 2023.

•County 708 Board: Nick Petrillo and Laurie Moore-Skinner for new four-year terms. Their terms will expire on December 31, 2025.

•Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission: Highland Mayor Kevin Hemann was recommended for appointment to serve the term of Hamel Mayor Larry Bloemker. Bloemker was found to be ineligible for the appointment due to compliance of the SLIEC board.

•Zoning Board of Appeals: Sharon Sherill for a new two-year term. The term expires November 15, 2023.

The Building and Zoning Committee reported the passage of five resolutions, as well as a resolution authorizing the demolition of unsafe buildings and structures.

In a joint report with Finance and Government Operations, a resolution passed to renew the Stormwater and Floodplain Management Services Contract for Building and Zoning.

A joint report with the Grants Committee reveals approval of a resolution to authorize grant funding to the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District for fiscal year 2022.

Buildings and Facilities, in a joint report with Finance and Government Operations, a resolution passed authorizing the purchase of two 2022 Ford Super Duty pickup trucks for the Building and Facilities department.

Most of the Finance and Government Operations Committee’s line items included their claims and transfers report and numerous immediate emergency appropriations resolutions from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022. Additionally, a resolution passed to purchase VEMACS support for the county clerk’s office and a property trustee report. An immediate FY21-to-FY22 emergency appropriation resolution in relation to various funds was kicked back to committee due to some discrepancies in appropriations to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.

In Information Technology’s  joint report with Finance and Government Operations, a resolution was approved for a three-year service contract for a KnowBe4 security awareness training subscription, as well as a KnowBe4 phisher subscription for the I.T. Department.

Also authorized for the department was a three-year service contract with CrowdStrike for anti-virus protection for all county computers.

Judiciary’s joint report with Finance and Government Operations, a revised resolution was approved to purchase professional services, specifically medical care, for the Madison County Detention Home.

The Transportation committee reported bids and award of contract for work to be done to Fisher Bridge on Brandt Road/TR 123 in the Olive and Alhambra road districts.

Also reported was an agreement for preliminary engineering services for Possum Bridge along Possum Hill Road.

The next meeting will be February 16 at 5 p.m.

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