Commission meeting ends abruptly

While the Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting got off to a slow start on Monday, Nov. 23, it definitely ended quickly when Commissioner Dianne Novak let loose a long tirade, speaking out against the Marion Record in general and particularly an opinion piece written by Publisher Eric Meyers, all while glaring at their local reporter who was sitting in the room. After several failed attempts by Chairman Jonah Gehring to stop Novak’s inappropriate blasting, the video was ended and the meeting over.

Novak stated that she had two comments during the commissioner comments and then said she voted for the mask mandate at this meeting since, to her understanding, there were no enforcements. The rest of what she said regarding the topic was not clear to those watching, since she did not speak into her microphone.

Novak then said, “The second thing I wanna talk about is the Marion Record. This is the most disgusting newspaper article [editorial] that I have ever read in that opinion page. It is nothing but left-wing, democratic, socialist propaganda, and you don’t deserve to be the legal paper in Marion County —.”

Gehring quickly cut in, saying, “OK, we can’t be attacking any business, no matter how much we disagree with them—.”

Novak raised her voice even louder and spoke over Gehring.

“Don’t you try to stop me. I can say whatever I want to say,” she said. “I am mentioned in that article, and I can say whatever I want to say. This is my opinion, OK? They may want my opinion.”

“Well, but right now you are speaking as a commissioner,” said Gehring.

“I’m speaking as myself!” yelled Novak.

“No, then we need to do that outside of this meeting,” said Gehring, calmly.

“OK, so who made this stuff so you think you can just shut a commissioner up? You have no authority to do that. I have every right to express my opinion and as you have to express yours,” retorted Novak.

“Excuse me—,” said Commissioner Dave Crofoot before being cut off.

“I was equally noted in that article [editorial] and I —,” Gehring said before also being cut off.

“And if that didn’t bother you, that’s just fine. I see where you are at, Jonah,” said Novak, followed by something unintelligible. “And obviously you other four little boys don’t, well, I’m sorry, two of them didn’t say a freaking thing. But obviously little boy Jonah doesn’t agree!”

Gehring made a motion while Novak continued, and Crofoot quickly seconded it, and the video portion ended immediately, with Novak still talking.

COVID-19 update

Diedre Serene, Marion County Health Department Administrator, started the meeting out with her weekly COVID-19 update.

“As of this morning, we have 130 probable, 62 active, one hospitalization and two deaths,” she said.

Serene mentioned that positive individuals start not feeling as well in day seven or eight and develop a fever, which means that not all are being released out of isolation at 10 days.

“We are also seeing a lot of family or household units developing the disease out of which some get tested and show up as positive, but some do not get tested. Those who develop symptoms and aren’t tested, we move into the probable category,” said Serene. “We do encourage testing if you are in a home with positive cases. If you do test positive, then you will not have to quarantine again for the following 90 days.”

Serene pointed out that, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website, there were 111 private events which resulted in 744 positive cases with 29 hospitalizations and seven deaths.

“Please consider this if you plan to gather for the holiday or you plan to gather for other events. As I have said many times before, the simplest things like wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and gathering limits are proven to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Serene. “If you do get together for the holidays, one mask per person, 10 or less per table with household contacts at one table and then six feet away from the next table, have good ventilation or even more ideal, gather outside.”

Later in the meeting, Tina Spencer gave the commissioners two variations of mask mandates that they had looked at in earlier meetings.

“We reviewed the executive order on Friday. We may have thought one way or this or that, but it doesn’t really matter. After reviewing the governor’s order, I think everyone kind of thought that that’s alright. And I guess I will make the motion to go with the Governor’s executive order,” said Gehring.

“I’ll second it,” said Crofoot.

“We will go with it just as written. I don’t see any reason that we need to make it any more stringent than that. They said we can tailor it, but I don’t think we need to tailor it to be more stringent,” said Gehring.

“So in essence, it is what we have now,” said Novak.

“No,” said Spencer.

“No,” said Gehring.

“No, we don’t have anything now,” explained Crofoot.

“Back when it started [mask recommendations], I didn’t agree with it. As Jonah just said, when you see all of the hospitals clear out in Wichita and Newton and other counties have them [COVID-19 patients] and then our county is trying to ship them out and they can’t take them because they are full, it tells us we have a problem. We need to address it. Hopefully we will get a vaccine here shortly,” said Commissioner Randy Dallke.

“I appreciate everybody voting yes. I strongly support mask-wearing. This week I’ve lost two friends that I know of, one in Missouri and one in Iowa. So it is happening. We just gotta be careful and protect each other,” said Crofoot.

Gehring encouraged people to look at the Kansas Hospital Association and explained that they have hospital information broken down into sectors.