Plains declares declaration of local disaster emergency

by Scott Shindledecker
Daily Inter Lake | March 26, 2020 4:24 PM

As concerns mount over COVID-19, Plains Mayor Dan Rowan issued a declaration of a state of local disaster emergency Tuesday, March 24.

While some of the declaration includes language that allows the mayor to prevent people from entering or leaving town and to direct law officers to enforce quarantines or curfews, Rowan said there are no immediate actions planned.

“We are not headed to martial law as some have suggested,” Rowan said. “Hopefully no action will have to be taken, but in order to qualify for state and federal emergency money, the declaration had to be made.”

One of the issues facing the town is how it will hold its meetings, which occur on the first Monday of the month.

“We’re trying to figure that out now,” Rowan said. “We’ll have a plan before the next meeting (April 6).”

Rowan said the biggest issue is public comment at meetings.

“That’s the rub,” he said. “We, the council, could have a conference call-in, but how do members of the public get to be heard.”

Rown said if the council meets and only pays bills, it could probably have closed meetings.

One of the most immediate concerns for Plains is getting the pool open, which would typically occur in late May.

“But if the closures continue, we won’t even be able to do that, so we’ll have to wait and see,” Rowan said.

The declaration is posted in its entirety on the Plains Facebook page and is listed below.

TOWN OF PLAINS

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

DECLARATION OF A STATE OF LOCAL DISASTER EMERGENCY

WHEREAS, an epidemic of the Coronavirus Disease (“COVID-19”) has occurred across the United States;

WHEREAS, individuals in the State of Montana have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19;

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic that is controllable via precautionary measures to stop the spread of the disease;

WHEREAS, the Sanders County Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution 2020-04 on March 16, 2020, declaring a Public Health Emergency pursuant to Section 10-3-402, MCA;

WHEREAS, the Town faces an imminent threat to life and public health resulting from COVID-19;

WHEREAS, the Town will commit all available resources, and will take all possible action to combat and to alleviate the situation, local resources may not be adequate to cope with the situation; and

WHEREAS, it appears to be in the best interests of the citizens of the Town of Plains that a state of local disaster emergency be declared.

NOW, THEREFORE, AS MAYOR OF THE TOWN OF PLAINS I HEREBY DECLARE:

Section 1. A state of local disaster emergency pursuant to Section 10-3-402, MCA,.

Section 2. This declaration of a state of local disaster emergency (“Declaration”) shall activate the response and recovery aspects of any and all local disaster emergency plans including the Sanders County Emergency Operations Plan.

Section 3. The Mayor has the authority pursuant to § 10-3-406, MCA, to prevent ingress or egress to all or part of the Town; to direct law enforcement to enforce quarantines and curfews in all or parts of the Town concurrent with or at the direction of the County Board of Health Officer.

Section 4. Regular meetings of the Plains Town Council, as required by law will be held but only essential legally required actions will be considered until such meetings can be held safely or by alternative electronic means with audio and visual communications.

Administrative meetings of the Plains Town Council are cancelled.

Section 6. Meetings of boards that are legally required to take action prior to final Town action shall continue to meet for those legally required actions only. Meetings may be held via electronic means with audio and visual communications. Meetings of the advisory boards that perform valuable advisory functions but are not legally required to act before final Town action are cancelled until further notice.

Section 7. This Declaration shall be continued for an indefinite period.

Section 8. Copies of this Declaration be filed with the County Clerk and Recorder, the Clerk of the Town, and the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Division in Plains.

Section 9. The public shall be notified of this Declaration as soon as reasonably feasible through general dissemination to the news media, posting on the Town website and social media accounts, or using other means of communication appropriate for informing the

general public.

- Dan Rowan, MAYOR