Trenton City Council meets via video conference; declares “State of Emergency” in Trenton

Trenton, Missouri

Meeting for the first time using internet technology, the Trenton City Council Monday night declared a “State of Emergency” within the city of Trenton and ordered certain measures to protect public life, health, safety, and property to limit the spread of the coronavirus or Covid-19 – the disease creating the emergency.

Essentially, five members of the council voted via a conferencing format, to adopt a resolution giving the Mayor additional powers in dealing with the health crisis. The emergency meeting was held via the web application called Zoom.

Participating and voting yes were Glen Briggs, Danny Brewer, Lou Fisher, Larry Crawford, and John Dolan. Not voting and considered absent were Brad Chumbley, Cathie Smith, and Dave Mlika. Five city officials participated including Mayor Linda Crooks who called the meeting to order; city clerk Cindy Simpson who read the resolution, city attorney Tara Walker who explained what it means, plus City Administrator Ron Urton, and Trenton Municipal Comptroller Rosetta Marsh.

The emergency exists effective immediately and will terminate by order of the city council when appropriate. In quoting from the three-page resolution, it designates the city administrator as the chief personnel officer of all departments and giving him the authority to approve all personnel requests and decisions regarding employees.

The resolution authorizes the Mayor to exercise specific emergency powers. Among them is the power to issue executive orders promoting rules and directives consistent with guidelines set by the Missouri department of health and senior services.

Among other duties, the Trenton Mayor will have the power to execute contracts for any emergency construction or repair of public improvements when the delay of advertising and public bidding might cause serious loss or injury to the city. It further allows the Mayor to purchase or lease goods and services necessary for the city’s emergency response regarding any repair of facilities and to acquire and distribute with or without compensation of supplies, materials, and facilities.

The Mayor will have the power to declare individuals, but not areas, quarantined as provided in Missouri statutes, and the Mayor can limit the number of people who may be permitted to gather in public places.

The resolution declaring an emergency for the city was the only agenda item and the online meeting concluded after about five minutes. Zoom technology allows participants to be at a computer in their homes, equipped with a microphone and video camera. The news media also participated via Zoom to hear the proceedings.

It was 3:30 Monday afternoon when the city clerk posted notice of a special council meeting for 7 o’clock. It was then publicized via Facebook pages of the city, KTTN and Republican Times.

Last Friday morning, the city clerk released a different agenda for Monday night’s council meeting using Zoom. A short time later, the Mayor canceled that meeting because of the coronavirus concerns – noting those agenda items were being postponed until another day and time to be announced.