The Kenyon City Council tonight declared a local emergency concerning response to the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic.  Cannon Falls also declared a local emergency during their City Council meeting Tuesday night according to Mayor John Althoff .

Althoff told Cannon Falls News listeners on KDHL this morning about the local designation which allows the council to forego such things as three day notification and required publication of meeting agendas.  Also the Mayor and City Administrator are authorized to make quicker purchases if needed due to the emergency status.

The Kenyon City Council approved closure of the Municipal Liquor Store effective March 17 noting the off-sale is still available to patrons.  The Library facility will be closed to walk in patrons beginning March 19th effective until March 27th. Online book orders can still be made.  Specific information is on the Kenyon Public Library website.

Kenyon City Administrator Mark Vahlsing told Council members gathered at Kenyon City Hall Council Chambers they want to close City Hall to the public.  There will be a location just inside the outside door where people can pay any bills they need to but entrance into the offices themselves will not be allowed.  The Council motion did not specify a date but Vahlsing indicated the action would be taken as soon as tomorrow (Thursday).

Mayor Doug Henke commented most cities in the state have closed their offices to the public.  Vahlsing said they would post their phone numbers, email addresses at the pay window and on the interior door to the city offices so people can still get ahold of them if they don't have access to the internet to go the the City of Kenyon website.

Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander reported they are taking calls in a different format.  Citizens of Kenyon are being encouraged to phone or text the department or contact via their Facebook page.  The Chief said people coming to the station has slowed down but pointed out they were able to assist an elderly resident in getting their vehicle tabs ordered online.

Sjolander remarked, "So we're going to be giving the same service that we give but I think in a little different format now for awhile.  I'm excited for it actually because I think it's going to be an interesting time to kinda get people to maybe be a little more self reliant on some things, which is great.  At the same time I think it's going to be good for us to have these opportunities help them out in a way that we haven't done before either."

"We've been spending some of our time just to get citizens to be calm and rational.  They're not out of hand by any means, but I think some people are fearing the worst and we're really trying to instill calmness and not panic among citizens.  There's still plenty of food around here. You can still get meat and your grocery staples here.  You can buy gasoline.  You can still buy alcohol if you choose and tobacco if you need it.  It's going to be a new norm for awhile but I think it's going to be okay."

Henke signed a proclamation declaring the local emergency in Kenyon.  The Council also approved a resolution concerning the declaration.

Vahlsing informed the Council they will implement a statute that allows for City Council and other meetings to be conducted electronically in the future.

Henke reported he received a call from the Mayo Clinic informing him as of Monday the Mayo Clinic facility in Kenyon would be closed temporarily and said all of the smaller clinics in the area were being closed possibly up to six months.

The Kenyon Mayor said he asked the Mayo representative what he thought the future looked like in the area and his reply according to Henke was, "Doug it's like this here, it's like a Tsunami coming in.  We don't know how big or when it's going hit."

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