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June 4, 2020

5/13/2020 2:58:00 PM
Mayor Ochs calls city workers back as local businesses begin start-ups
The City of North Vernon is now open for business.

Well, sort of.

Mayor Mike Ochs reports he called city departments Friday, May 8, to order the offices and staff return to normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the COVID-19 emergency, offices and departments functioned at half day and in some instances with only a skeletal staff.

However, while the offices are returning to full-time status, the doors will remain locked unless you call ahead and make an appointment.

"I"m bringing them back to work, but the offices are not open," said Ochs. "There's a lot of paperwork."

"I'm following the governor's lead," he continued, referring to Governor Eric Holcomb's "Back on Track Indiana Plan." In that plan, remote work is recommended until June 13-14. However, the mayor says offices in North Vernon will re-open to the public on June 1.

Depending on the type of business, you'll find some businesses open and some not. Hair salons have re-opened and have followed the governor's plan.

Other businesses in town and through the county are pretty much forging their own path with each business owner using their own common sense. Downtown, the Brick Street Restaurant is open now, but Perfect Day is still operating curbside only. Sisters Floral's doors are locked, but you can call or knock on the door to place an order; meanwhile, Joyce's Flowers has never closed.

"I appreciate what some of those businesses are doing...but curb service isn't going to pay your bills. Restaurants need people to come in and sit down and order," said the mayor.

The corona virus has had a "negative effect" on the area's small businesses, said Ochs. "We need to get businesses back open. It's never good when your business has to close. We need to get them open as soon as we can."

At the Monday, May 11 Council meeting, the mayor was not present for a discussion on the city offices opening due to a tooth extraction.

Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Gerkin noted that before the offices open their doors to the public in June, questions need to be answered, such as Should there be temperature checks? Should employees wear face masks?

The city is expecting the arrival of 2000 face masks and 144 gallons of hand sanitizer any day now. These materials, purchased by the North Vernon Redevelopment Commission, will be distributed to the city offices first, then to small businesses on a first come, first serve basis.

City attorney Larry Greathouse clarified that it is up to the mayor to make the decision about re-opening city offices.

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