Tomah reacts to growing COVID-19 epidemic
Business at Tomah city hall will not be business as usual for the immediate future.
The words 'until further notice' will be more common than a friendly greeting.
Responding to growing local and state concern over the COVID-19 outbreak Tomah city offices closed Wednesday. During a press conference Wednesday at Tomah city hall, city administrator Roger Gorius outlined how business will change for an indefinite period.
Gorius said the steps were discussed by the Tomah council Tuesday night after earlier meetings with city department lead staff.
Starting Wednesday the following restrictions are in place:
City hall offices are closed to the public. Citizens can call 374-7423 or 374-7426 to schedule an appointment for absentee voting or voter registration.
There is no municipal court scheduled Wednesday, March 25. For any municipal court information dated for April 1, call 374-7425. If you do not need to appear in court payments can be placed in the drop box or on line at tomahonline.com. The GOVPAY link is under the court tab. The pay code for court is 5008.
Tax and ambulance payments can be placed in the drop box next to the front door on Superior Avenue, mailed to 819 Superior Ave. or make on line at tomahonline.com on the city's home page. No in person payments will be accepted until further notice.
All park shelter rentals are suspended through May. All recreation activities have been cancelled until further notice. Spring program registrations are postponed until further notice.
Absentee voting and voter registration is by appointment only. Call 374-7426 to schedule a time over the phone. On line absentee voting is possible at myvote.wi.gov if you are a registered voter and have not moved or changed your name. If you need to register after March 18 it must be done in the city clerk's office or at the polls on election day.
Bartender applications and liquor license paperwork can be dropped off at the drop box. Inspections of these facilities are postponed until further notice for renewals.
Other licensing for transient merchant, taxi drivers and taxicabs, farmers market can be placed in the drop box. Building inspection permits are available on line and can be placed in the drop box with payment or mailed. If a personal appointment is needed call city hall to schedule.
All emergency services (fire/EMS) will continue to operate without change, Gorius noted.
Per public works director Kirk Arity, as of March 23, all garbage should be bagged and placed in recycling totes. This will allow the city to continue providing waste collection and protect its employees, Arity said.
The garbage schedule will not change. Continue to place your garbage, in the recycling tote, at its normal pickup location. Pickup times may vary. It is suggested to put totes out the night before.
If time allows, multiple pickups may occur. If you have excess garbage that does not fit in the tote, feel free to refill it after it has been emptied.
If you are able to meet the garbage truck, please do so to get rid of all your garbage at once. At this time, employees will not pick up large items such as furniture, appliances, TVS, etc.
Recycling at this time will no longer be picked up. Bagged recyclable items can be brought to the city shop (515 E. Monowau St.) on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Arity asks residents to consider your personal situation before using this method. Note that things can change on a day-to-day basis.
They will keep their website as up to date as possible. Any questions, please call the Public Works office at 374-7430.
Office staff will continue working and will be available for questions over the phone and then by appointment if needed.
Gorius was candid when outlining the COVID-19 fallout across Wisconsin and the nation.
"This is unprecedented," Gorius said. "I've never seen anything like this in my career and I was in Europe for the mad cow disease outbreak. This tops that."
The United Kingdom BSE outbreak was a widespread occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as BSE or mad cow disease) that affected cows in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. It created turmoil in that part of the globe.
Mayor Mike Murray said information about COVID-19 changes daily, if not hourly.
In spite of changes, "the city will continue to operate, just in a different manner," Murray said. "Risk is always present. But the public has control over how much risk they put themselves in."
Tomah police chief Mark Nicholson assured his officers will continue their normal shift presence, but at the same time asked the public to consider limited exposure. When asked about keeping Tomah lawful as stress levels may increase, Nicholson offered similar advice uttered by one of Wisconsin's most prominent individuals.
"People just need to relax," Nicholson said. "We will get through this."