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Getting the county back on its feet in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak was the top priority of the Harvey County Commission during its meeting Tuesday morning.


The commission was presented with a rough draft of a five-phase Harvey County Health Recovery Plan. Much of what was prevented will be dependent on what Gov. Laura Kelly and other branches of the state government do in coming days. Kelly is expected to announce a statewide plan later this week.


The first phase of the plan is currently in place and is called "Slow the Spread."


That phase includes the current statewide stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.


The second phase, "Loosen Restrictions," requires continued social distancing guidelines, encourage citizens to continue to wear masks in public, continue those with high risk for the disease to restrict activities and keep current open businesses to operate under current restrictions.


Those with the disease will continue to be isolated and those who were in contact will continue to be identified and quarantined.


Mass gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 or less.


The third phase is lifting most restrictions. Mass gatherings would be restricted to 50 or less. Social distancing and face masks would continue to be encouraged.


"People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness can resume some activities, but need to remain vigilant," it says. "Non-essential travel can resume, but there must be strict adherence to KDHE and CDC guidelines regarding isolation following out-of-state travel."


The fourth phase would be "Returning to the New Normal." Social distancing and face masks would continued to be encouraged. Restrictions on mass gatherings would be eliminated.


"Non-essential travel is ok, but there must be strict adherence to KDHE and CDC guidelines regarding isolation following out-of-state travel," it says. "Resume unrestricted staffing at worksites, but ensure social distancing and hygiene protocols are in place."


The fifth phase is "Normal" and wouldn’t take place until "once a treatment or vaccine is available for all residents."


The phases could be reversed if the disease outbreaks increase.


The commissioners indicated they wouldn’t take action on the measures until the governor makes her next declaration later this week. The commission is free to amend or make changes to the plan.


Harvey County Emergency Management director Gary Denny reported that his department has been working with the Harvey County Economic Development Council, the Newton Ministerial Alliance, a group of education leaders in the county, as well as the county council of governments. His department also has been working with Newton Medical Center, Prairie View and the county medical association to asses health care needs.


"How do we get our kids back in the classrooms, people back in the congregations, football games, the things that make us Harvey County," Denny said. "Working with our community partners, we’re not only getting input for our reopening plan, we’re also getting input on our recovery plan."


The commission also discussed changes to the Harvey County Economic Development Council. Ray Penner is leaving the board. The council recommended Mindy Budde be retained for another three-year term. Melvin Schadler was nominated for a position on the board.


The county also approved an additional $59.182.50 for the heating and air conditioning system for the joint law enforcement center with the city of Newton. That system is being installed for the shooting range. The total cost of the HVAC system is $233,365, in excess of the $115,000 originally budgeted (which was a placeholder amount set by the architect).


The total cost of the project is $233,365. The current contract allowed $115,000. The county’s portion will be $59,182.50.


The Newton City-County Airport received $69,000 in federal funding for operational costs.


The commission took no action on a letter from the Regional Economic Area Partnership on cooperative purchases, but discussed the letter.


The commission received a letter from the Harvey County Indigent Panel seeking a $20,000 increase for 2021. That will be acted on at the county’s budget meeting.


The county approved the payment of $58,105.85 in warrant checks covering county business for the period of April 19-24.


The commission will hold a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Friday, which could be changed to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, depending on what the governor decides.