SB council 031620::1

Mark McCarthy/Star-Herald The Scottsbluff City Council adjusted the council chambers seating to practice social distancing in light of the COVID-19 guidelines. Scottsbluff will close down non-essential operations at the close of business Tuesday.

For the first time in two months, the Scottsbluff City Council will hold an in-person meeting Monday night.

Following the council’s March 16 meeting, city offices were closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the council has been meeting via teleconference since. Monday’s meeting will be in the council chambers at City Hall.

“We’re trying to get back to some sense or normalcy as we get back together as a group on Monday night,” mayor Raymond Gonzales said. “We’re going to proceed with caution.”

The council will be seated under social distancing guidelines and those attending are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“We’ll have everybody spread out at tables,” interim city manager Rick Kuckkahn said. “Masks are optional. City staff will be wearing masks.”

Kuckkahn said with restrictions being relaxed, the time seems right to get back to in-person meetings.

“There was an interest on the part of some members to meet face-to-face, that was their preference,” Kuckkahn said. “That opinion prevailed, and that’s why we’re going back to it.”

Other communities have already had public meetings, so Kuckkahn said the city isn’t exactly breaking new ground.

“We’re not standing out really there,” he said. “There’s a number of communities that are doing the same thing, so we’re not really out of step with other communities. Likewise, there are other communities that aren’t doing it.

"Again, it’s sort of that mixed approach that depends upon people’s sensitivities and the majority rules. I have no problem with it. As long as we follow the governor’s directives, that’s considered safe, so let’s move ahead.”

Kuckkahn said it is important that people get back to a sense of normalcy referenced by Gonzales.

“It’s all new territory for everybody,” Kuckkahn said. “The one thing that I would hate to see is this virus turning into a wall between people. We need to be together more than ever working in the same direction, and hopefully the virus doesn’t create a situation where we find everybody creating these chasms. I don’t think that’s happened yet, and we’ll do everything we can to prevent it.”

Monday’s agenda will include continued discussion about the future of solid waste disposal for the city. Scottsbluff and Gering have indicated a desire to come together for a regional landfill, however the timeline to get a new facility built and the life expectancy of the current Gering landfill may be tight unless some measures are taken to extend the current life of the Gering landfill. At the May 4 council meeting, there was discussion of contracting out Scottsbluff’s solid waste in an effort to relieve the Gering landfill somewhat.

Also on the agenda is an extension of Kuckkahn’s interim contract, currently set to expire June 1. Due to COVID-19 delays, a replacement has not been identified as yet.

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Reporter

Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at mark.mccarthy@starherald.com.

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