Glacier County Commissioners John Overcast, Michael DesRosier and Tom McKay

The Glacier County Commissioners, in what they called an “emergency meeting,” closed all three branches of the Glacier County Library on Friday, March 20. “We’re going to close the library,” Chairman Michael DesRosier stated. 

The library had been operating under “Stage 2” response level in response to COVID-19. The protocol called for limited use of the library, limiting browsing to 10 minutes to allow patrons to return and check out books. As of press time, Gov. Bullock had not ordered the closure of public libraries.

Greco asked the Commissioners who would be responsible for the ongoing day-to-day operations of the library while it was closed and was told “give us a plan for one person” to do those duties. The Commissioners allowed Greco to have one staff member work two hours per day while their closure order was in force.

District Court Clerk Janine Scott was also told to limit her staff’s hours and provide a “plan” to the commissioners. The Commissioners told Scott employees will not be allowed to use administrative leave.

“Is that because of the County’s financial state,” she asked.

“No, because of the pandemic,” responded Commissioner Tom McKay.

“Well, that too,” added Chairman DesRosier.

No one was taking minutes of the afternoon portion of the meeting, which Commissioner McKay called a “gathering not a meeting.” Also present were Treasurer Don Wilson and Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson.

Chairman DesRosier stated, “We’ve been here all day,” and there was a lot of people “in and out of here” while the Commissioners were discussing their emergency plan.

When asked for a copy of the plan, DesRosier responded, “We don’t have a written plan.”

The Commissioners said Carolyn Popelka, Payroll Clerk, was taking minutes during the morning session of the meeting, which included department heads. DesRosier said 12 people attended the meeting. 

The draft minutes of the meeting were requested by this newspaper.

Commissioner DesRosier stated during the afternoon session of the meeting they were closing the Glacier County Courthouse effective Monday, March 23. At that time, DesRosier said County officials had not yet informed State officials of their decision. The courthouse opened as usual on Monday.

Vice Chairman Commissioner Tom McKay was told specifically by Human Resources Director Mike Kittson on Thursday, March 19, he could not adjourn and then reconvene the meeting on March 20. Kittson reminded him the Commissioners had not given notice they were going to meet. Commissioners McKay and John Overcast were waiting for Chairman DesRosier to show up for the regularly scheduled meeting on March 19. 

Since a unanimous decision of the Commissioners was needed to approve two Emergency Declarations, Chairman DesRosier was called and attended the March 19 meeting via telephone. The Commissioners unanimously approved both the COVID-19 County Emergency Declaration and the COVID-19 Health Emergency Declaration. The former declaration was not on the agenda, so the Commissioners approval is pending final approval on Tuesday, March 24, at their meeting in Browning.

(Editor’s Note: This meeting was not noticed or posted and was in progress when our reporter inadvertently walked in on it while conducting other business in the courthouse.)

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