Despite the “stay-at-home” order still in effect across Illinois, the Shelby County Board found a way to meet on Wednesday – outside. Several participants and observers wore masks, including the sheriff. The board paid bills and took care of other business.

The board met at the 9th Street Dam West Pavilion. The day was clear and bright, the temperature was shirt-sleeve weather and the warm sun felt good. The backdrop was beautiful Lake Shelbyille. Fishermen were just offshore in their boat, and big fish were splashing out of the water, daring to be caught.

About 30 people attended the meeting, including county employees and county officials and media. They couldn’t fit in the same picture frame because they were too spread out, some in the pavilion and some encircling it.

Someone asked the board chairman to speak up because there was no sound equipment. He said they would have to move closer. The meeting came to order with social distancing observed.

A prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, like normal. All the votes were roll call, because a voice vote could be problematic outdoors. A few members did not make the meeting. There was no remote voting.

Shelby County Emergency Management Director Jared Rowcliffe spoke and then the Shelby County Health Administrator. They gave updates to the local COVID-19 situation.

As of Wednesday there were three confirmed cases involving people with residences in Shelby County. Two are a husband and wife who are isolated in a residence in Sangamon County. The other is a 31 year-old woman in Shelby County who is quarantined in her home with her family.

“The main thing is to think of their well-being and their safety as they recover,” Rowcliffe said. “There have been 34 tested from Shelby County, three were positive and 29 were negative. Two are pending.”

Rowcliffe said that one needed some assistance. Rowcliffe said they have coordinated with the Salvation Army to give assistance throughout the quarantine.

Steve Melega said that testing had changed, as of Wednesday. Doctors and hospitals will be able to order tests.

“This virus comes on fast,” Melega said. “The ‘L’ strain is lethal, the ‘S’ strain is milder. It is 10 times more infectious than seasonal flu. The virus can stay active on a surface for nine days. A person can have it, be asymptomatic and breathe on others and infect them.”

Shelby County Sheriff Don Koonce reported that the closed campgrounds are being regularly checked for campers.

Rowcliffe said that the Shelby County EMA got a shipment of supplies in Sunday, including masks, gloves, sanitizer and surgical masks. He said that HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital is in good shape with supplies. He said he is suppose to get another shipment.

The county board had a lengthy discussion on a payroll procedure change in May and then voted 9-8 to pass it. (See additional story)

Item #7 was a request to approve a resolution to award a contract for the Clarksburg Railroad Crossing Approach Project to Klein Excavating for $89, 729.68. The resolution passed unanimously.

Newly seated County Board Member Robert Orman wanted a vote on a “cease and desist order” for outside attorneys being used by any representative of the county. There was much discussion on that concerning Attorney Ed Flynn for work he has done over the last 5 years. He currently is representing the county in an arbitration case.

“You want to dump our lawyer in the middle of arbitration?” asked another new member, Lavonne Chaney.

Orman said, he wants it stopped until there is “legal clarity.”

“We need to stop the practice,” Orman said. “This is enough.”

The topic of using outside attorneys has been discussed by the county board over the last few months. Orman noted there is a bill being offered in Springfield on the issue. Orman’s motion was voted down 13 to 4.

There was discussion about a bill for $8,000 that had been approved by the board last month, connected to Attorney Ed Flynn. It had not been paid.

Treasurer Firnhaber said she pulled it, because she saw nothing in county board action to pay it. County Board Member Terry Metzger said if Firnhaber didn’t want to pay the bill that she could sign under protest, “and that clears you.”

“We voted to approve it,” said County Board Member Lynn Williams

“We voted to pay it,” said County Board Chairman Bruce Cannon. “Erica, I think you need to pay it.”

A current bill for $12,000 in connection with Ed Flynn was excluded from being paid at this time. A motion to pay all the other bills passed with just three nay votes.

John Curtis can be reached at

John Curtis can be reached at

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