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Marshall extends emergency declaration

MARSHALL — Members of the Marshall City Council voted Tuesday to extend a local state of emergency until June 12. However, the decision only came after a discussion over what the declaration was for, and whether it was needed anymore.

Marshall declared a local state of emergency on March 17 to coincide with emergency declarations made by Gov. Tim Walz in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s declaration was extended twice, with the most recent extension set to expire Tuesday.

With Minnesota relaxing some of its stay-at-home restrictions on businesses, some council members questioned whether the declaration needed to be extended a third time. Council member James Lozinski asked for an explanation of what the emergency declaration did for the city.

Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson said one of the important effects of having a declared state of emergency was that it allowed the city to respond quickly if conditions with COVID-19 change.

Right now, she said, “It appears that nothing is needed, but things can change very quickly.”

“We would like this to be over, but we’re still in a risky situation,” said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.

A secondary benefit of having a declared state of emergency is that the city could be eligible for emergency funding or reimbursement, said council member Craig Schafer.

As Minnesota starts getting more back to normal, council member Glenn Bayerkohler said he hoped Marshall could do the same.

“I do hope we can get a more positive message to our city,” he said.

However, council member Steven Meister urged caution.

“Everything we do before a pandemic is alarmist, and everything we do after a pandemic is inadequate,” Meister said. As a health care professional, he said, he didn’t want to see people get seriously ill or die.

In the end, council members voted to extend the local emergency declaration until June 12.

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