Lake area city governments have had to change up much of the way they operate during times of quarantine. Even though the importance of city board meetings is pivotal, even they have had to move to their living rooms on laptop webcams to get business done.

Lake area city governments have had to change up much of the way they operate during times of quarantine. Even though the importance of city board meetings is pivotal, even they have had to move to their living rooms on laptop webcams to get business done.

Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri says that, in order to maintain compliance with social distancing requirements and in accordance with modified State meeting guidelines, the Osage Beach Board of Alderman held its 1st ever virtual Board meeting on April 2nd. Until the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, all Board meetings will follow the virtual format.

Olivarri says that the switch to digital was a smooth adjustment, as the city was fortunate enough to have the technology available to work remotely with modifications to some internal policies. Osage Beach residents are able to view virtual meetings in a listen only mode by using the link found on the city website under Board of Alderman meetings. Olivarri says that, If anyone wants to offer questions or comments for the Mayor and/or Alderman, they should be received by the City Clerk at tberreth@osagebeach.org no later than 10:00 AM, on the day of the Board meeting—the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. The questions and comments submitted will be read during the Citizen's Communications portion of the Board meeting.

With staggered work schedules and lobbies closed to the public, the adjustment of city operations has been significant. Olivarri says that his main concern during this time is the financial impact to those who cannot afford the changes to work and income.

“My prayers and thoughts go out to the family and friends of the Area citizens tested positive with the virus,” Olivarri said. “May they recover soon!”

In Camdenton, much of the same efforts are being made to implement a digital meeting space. City Clerk Renee Kingsotn says they are holding video-conference meetings over Zoom. She says the city will be streaming on their official city page on Facebook. The public will need to submit questions or concerns prior to or may comment on the Facebook Live Stream and those questions will be answered after the meeting.

Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski says that the city board has avoided the digital switch by staggering board employees around the meeting room to enact social distancing requirements. They are even allowing in-person visitors to speak to the board at a podium set outside the room.
“We made arrangements for the public to have physical access to the meeting under the public health guidelines, and encouraged the public to attend only if they had a specific issue for the board or staff,” Murawski said.

Murawski says he felt the city was prepared to act on this event, though it goes beyond anything they had previously experienced. He says the city closed City Hall offices to the public to protect staff and the public, while also working diligently not to reduce or eliminate any essential services which the office and in-the-field staff provides to the public.

Balancing the needs of the public, requirements of the Sunshine Law and public health and safety are what Murawski says have been the biggest challenges. He says Public Works, Street and Utility departments report daily on a staggered schedule to provide essential services. However, though the city has been equipped to face these challenges, Muraski worries for the local businesses and how they will fare during this time.

“A major concern is our small businesses which have basically been shuttered since mid-March,” Murawski said. “They are the lifeblood of our community and we encourage lake-area residents and visitors to patronize them through curbside and takeout options, and to remember them when our community, the lake area and state are through this COVID-19 challenge.”