Local leaders to determine how to proceed


Dubois Count Commissioners Chad Blessinger and Elmer Brames feel that the governor’s plan is appropriate.

“I think it is well thought out,” Brames said. “Could it be too aggressive? We don’t know yet. But I think he’s got his metrics in place. If we truly gauge the progress of the opening up by the metrics that are in place, then I think we’re good.

“As long as the metrics don’t increase, the hospitalizations don’t increase, then going to the next stage at each phase is I think a responsible thing to do.”
Blessinger agreed. “I think that [the governor] is doing the exact right things,” he said. “A slow, steady response, and a slow and steady reopening will ensure that if there is a spike, that is a manageable spike. I think it is a reasonable and balanced way of doing it.”

Jo Ann Spaulding, administrative director for the Dubois County Health Department also thought that Holcomb’s staged plan was well thought out. “I am pleased to see that our Governor mapped out a strategic plan that is data driven for our communities to open of safely,” she said.

The county commissioners are scheduled to meet Monday. Along with other government business, they will talk about bringing county workers back into county buildings on Tuesday.

“Nothing I heard today would change the path that we were on previously,” Blessinger said. “We will discuss the situation on Monday. Barring anything changing before then, we plan to have all the employees back in the office. And we will integrate the public in the following week. That is the path I believe we’re still on.“

Friday’s governor’s announcement may also be discussed at the commissioners meeting Monday. Holcomb indicated that local governments can be more restrictive in local measures for opening locations, if they deem that to be needed.

Brames doesn’t see that happening at this time.

“I don’t see us attempting to be more more stringent than what the state does,” Brames said. “I certainly understand the metropolitan areas; he talked about Marion and Lake, and even Cass county. They may have a very different situation than what we have. But I think our situation is probably the more normal throughout the state. Certainly there are counties who have fewer cases than what we do; but there are certainly some that have considerably more than what we do as well. So I would consider us probably in the normal range of things. And I would suspect that we’ll follow the governor’s guidelines as much as we can.”

Municipal leaders of communities like Jasper, Huntingburg and Ferdinand also plan to continue working closely with the Dubois County Health Department and Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center. For now, the plan is to reopen local businesses according to Holcomb’s plan.

“The key is to communicate, communicate, communicate,” Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said.

Following the governor’s announcement Friday, staff meetings across the county took place as each municipality worked to decide for itself how to reopen.

In Ferdinand, the plan is to continue town operations according to the executive order currently in place. That means town facilities will remain closed to the public, and staff will maintain social distancing while at work.

“We’ll keep that up probably through May 24,” Town Council President Ken Sicard said.

At its May meeting, the town council will discuss how to move forward and reopen town facilities.

Leaders in the City of Huntingburg will work over the weekend to determine how to proceed following the governor’s announcement. Mayor Denny Spinner said he plans to release details on Monday.

“I think we need to be — as the governor has been — making decisions based on data,” Spinner said.

To do that, he and his staff have been working closely with the Dubois County Health Department.

Jasper is following a similar plan.

“We’re pretty much uniform across the county,” Vonderheide said. “We are going to follow the governor’s and the health department’s lead.”

Local municipal leaders have also been part of the Re-Open Dubois County task force, which is offering guidelines and help to local businesses as they reopen. The task force put together a set of guidelines for county businesses that will be released Monday. The task force also includes the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Dubois County Commissioners and other leaders.

For now, businesses are urged to look at the governor’s guidelines, as well as those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments to determine for themselves how they can reopen while maintaining safety for their employees and the public. Members of the public are also asked to continue following the guidelines.

“Like the governor says, we’re all in this together,” Vonderheide said. “We can also thrive together, and that’s what we’er trying to build here in the county.”

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