By Amanda Ensinger
As the stay at home order continues in Ohio, local municipalities are continuing to make changes to protect residents. Among these changes is having all Prairie Township meetings via Facebook Live and having the trustees attend the meetings via conference call.
According to Prairie Township Administrator Rob Peters, the meetings are still open to the public, they just need to be watched on Facebook Live instead of attended in person.
“Residents can submit questions ahead of the meeting, but cannot ask questions via Facebook Live during the meetings,” Peters said. “Questions need to be submitted ahead of the meeting and will be addressed by leadership during the meeting.”
Peters said having meetings in this format would minimize the risk of infection in the township. Officials have also closed Township Hall to essential staff only.
“We are still answering phones, responding to emails and people can submit zoning requests,” Peters said. “I will still be here and our laptops and phones are connected to Township Hall, so we can respond to inquiries at home as well.”
Peters said the township has never experienced anything like this before so there is no operating procedure that covers how to deal with a pandemic like COVID-19.
“Right now, we are trying to see if there are ways at least some of our staff can work from home,” Peters said. “We also will be using our Facebook page to keep residents as informed as possible.”
Peters added that township departments, such as the fire department, are using personal protection equipment when responding to people who might have COVID-19 to protect themselves.
Other township departments that will continue to operate include the roads, cemeteries and parks department, fiscal office and police services via the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The Prairie Township Community Center closed its doors until further notice. During this period of closure, the community center plans to do their annual deep cleaning and will not be doing the temporary closing they previously had planned for later this year.
The center had hoped to reopen on April 6 when schools were supposed to open, but will continue to be closed as long as the shelter in place order by Governor DeWine is in place.
“We will be extending membership for anytime lost during this shutdown,” said Michael Pollack, director of the community center. “We also will be suspending billing in April until we reopen so members don’t have to worry about how they will make payments during these difficult times.”
Once the center can reopen, the community center will restart payment, but will not bill members for past months the center was closed.
“We also are trying to reschedule or postpone the majority of events we had planned instead of cancelling them,” Pollack said. “However, if someone calls and ask for a refund, we will give them a refund.”
Some of the events they are looking at rescheduling include the mother/son dance, spring swim lessons and other recreation classes.