Signs of the Times

Daily life takes on a different look as Amador, Calaveras counties do their part to try and slow spread of Coronavirus. Many local restaurants, like Rosebud’s Cafe in downtown Jackson, have adjusted to the statewide “stay at home” order by offering curbside pickup for to-go orders.

Meeting in person, carefully spaced out in compliance with guidelines established to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus, and with the public participating through video conference and telephones, the Amador County Board of Supervisors held a short public meeting on Tuesday morning, March 24.

The board voted to move Amador County Health Official Dr. Rita Kerr to full-time status in light of the ongoing medical emergency. The move is reflected in Dr. Kerr’s increased duties since the spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding health emergency and shelter in place orders. In the words of the request from the County Health Department: “All local governmental agencies, educational systems, the public at large and state leadership have turned to Dr. Kerr for guidance and expert consultation on appropriate actions to limit the effect of the virus to our community.”

Traditionally, the County Health Official has been a part-time position filled by a doctor who also maintains their own practice. Kerr is a doctor of internal medicine and graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin. According to public records, Dr. Kerr earned a little more than $66,000 from Amador County in pay in 2017 and just less than $27,000 in 2016. The move to full-time will be retroactive to mid-February.

The Board of Supervisors also approved the shutdown of the Amador County Library system and the closure of the county animal shelter to the public as part of efforts to reduce interpersonal contact and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Supervisors also voted to approve a one-year extension of the county’s urgency ordinance that bans the commercial sale and growing of industrial hemp. The extension gives the county a year to go through the formal law-making process regarding hemp, which looks the same as medical or recreational marijuana, but cannot be smoked but rather can be harvested for CBD oils used in various health and beauty products. County Administrative Officer Chuck Iley said that county staff had prepared for a more detailed discussion on the issue of industrial hemp and its drawbacks and benefits, but rather than draw a large crowd during the nation’s current health emergency, staff recommended the quick passage of the urgency ordinance extension and save the discussion for a later date. The permanent ordinance will move through the regular county process within the year, including a public hearing before the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

District 5 Supervisor Brian Oneto was absent from the meeting. Board Chair Pat Crew announced that Oneto was feeling under the weather and had elected to stay home.

The next Amador County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14.