Rush City Council approved a city preparedness plan as part of its virtual meeting held Monday, June 22.

The City Preparedness Plan covers city properties, especially City Hall and the Public Works Garage. The Community Center, the Fire Hall, and the Arrival/Departure Building at the city airport also will be governed by these regulations.

The plan follows current guidelines as presented by the Minnesota Department of Health as well as OSHA standards related to COVID-19.

City Administrator Amy Mell said City Hall has added a plexiglass stand that will be used at the front counter of City Hall and also will be used for elections.

“We did not put in this report that people are required to wear a mask to work here or come in here,” Mell said. “Staff can still work from home; we can social distance at City Hall and at Public Works.”

Councilor Frank Storm asked Mell if she had received any complaints about City Hall not being open. When Mell said no, Storm replied: “Then my opinion would be to keep it closed. That is safest for everybody.”

Multiple council members agreed.

Mell said she and other city workers have been able to stagger the times they are in the office to handle the needs of the city and keep current on their responsibilities.

Regarding the Community Center, Mell said she has received a call asking for permission to hold an exercise class there. The center, which is attached to the Rushseba Senior Living Center, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic broke in March.

“To me, if you open up [the Community Center] to one group, you have to open it up to everybody – and that would be a mistake,” Mayor Dan Dahlberg said. Concerns also were raised about sanitizing the center after each use and the problems involved with liability should someone using the center contract the virus.

Mell also mentioned that the city park at Dana Avenue is not closed, but signs are up that say the equipment at the park – including picnic benches and the band shell area – are not sanitized.

Small business loan available

East Central Energy is offering $20,000 to cities as a loan to help local businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The Rush City Economic Development Authority asked council to apply to East Central Energy for the loan.

“We talked to businesses in town, and a few that I talked to said they would be interested in applying for this loan,” Mell said. “Our EDA thought this was something we should offer the business community.”

The loans would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The loans are interest-free, and the first payment on the loan would be deferred for six months from the date of the loan’s issuance.

The maximum term for the loan would be for 36 months after the six-month deferral period. If a business defaults on the loan, the loss would be split between the city and East Central Energy.

Council unanimously approved pursuing the loan.

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