If COVID-19 is an adversary, the City of St. Cloud is staring it down.
It’s a city that’s being flexible and responsive to its citizens.
If it feels like it’s been “a while” since things changed, it’s because the City Council and City Manager Bill Sturgeon acted and directed staff to be nimble early on, taking action on March 19.
“When this whole thing started to evolve, right away I put the senior management team together and said, let’s make health of our community, elected officials and employees the top priority,” he said.
City Council member Linette Matheny said St. Cloud was first to shut down its City Hall to the public in the area.
“That says a lot for our management to make those tough decisions and protect your employees,” she said. “So many in the building were not prepared to be totally remote, but our IT group did a great job ensuring keeping the city moving and maintaining services. There will be bumps in the road, but the unique ways to solve problems we’ve learned will stay with us after all this is finally over.”
Emergency services are fully functioning like fire, police and EMS protection, solid waste and public works. “My hat’s off to the City Manager, the Police Chief (Pete Gauntlett), the Fire Chief (Joe Silvestris), and Mayor (Nathan Blackwell, who sits on the county’s Executive Policy Group).”
The city’s major water quality project continues with the ice pigging and swabbing operations to flush water pipes. And while the building department has gone to online permits via email, city staff can and will meet with those who need to after a health screening.
“Inspections still go on to keep construction projects going. Those essential services so important to keep from causing community issues,” Sturgeon said. “The staff has stepped up beyond imagination who have come up with things I would have never thought of in my life. It’s been a great team effort, from City Council to the newest employee.”
There’s a theme around St. Cloud – the “Heroes Work Here” – that started at St. Cloud Regional Medical Center to recognize health care workers, and it’s worked its way down to front-line city employees, waste management, water plant and utilities staff and fleet services.
“We decided to recognize and make sure we take care of all of them,” Sturgeon said. “And I have to also thank our grocery stores and pharmacy workers, who we’ve taken for granted all this time. Hats off for standing in and staying the course.”
And the city has made sure the city can stay the course, approving $15,000 from accounts with extra money from the last fiscal year to support the St. Cloud Community Pantry.
“Their need is going to continue for a while,” Matheny said.
Keeping city business going, Thursday marks the second remote City Council meeting. Go to stcloud.org to check it out at 6:30.
“Gone smoothly. Can’t say enough good things about our IT department.”