Brookfield Township has a very specific mission: to provide services to its residents.
That mission, though, is carried out by people, and Trustee Dan Suttles said employee safety is his number-one concern. The township has changed the way it does things on several fronts to promote employee safety while still providing services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, he said.
The trustees have canceled meetings that can be attended by the public, but have only held two meetings since the DeWine administration imposed gathering limitations. At those meetings, both of which were broadcast on Facebook Live and can be seen today at the township’s Facebook page, Suttles and Trustee Ron Haun sat at opposite ends of a table in the trustees’ office, Fiscal Manager Dena McMullin sat at the entrance to her office, and Trustee Gary Lees attended by phone.
“We’re trying to super-isolate Gary,” Suttles said, referring to Lees caring for his mom, who is in her 90s.
There are no requirements that trustees meet a certain number of times, according to the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office, but they have to meet to hire, approve major purchases and approve documents such as the budget, Suttles said.
Suttles has put on hold his neighborhood meetings, which he had planned to start back up in April after a cold-weather hiatus.
promo“It’s kind of a tough pill,” he said. “I have a good time doing that. I feel like we’re really reaching out. Those are good things.”
Suttles said he has been driving around the township every day, and checking on the closed township park to make sure no one is in there.
The police and fire departments cannot totally avoid public contacts, but have changed the way they do things to socially distance when it is at all possible, and the fire department has closed the station to the public.
In the road department, the schedule was changed so only two guys are working at a time, and trucks are assigned to specific employees.
Because of the reduced crew, Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg said he has had to hold off on projects such as completing the storm sewer installation on Rose Avenue and grading roads, because he doesn’t have enough manpower and/or vehicle operators to do the jobs.
Instead, the road crew has been sweeping streets, cleaning ditches, installing a catch basin and digging graves for the spate of funerals in the township cemetery, Fredenburg said.
All departments have contingency plans in case any of their workers get sick or have to be quarantined, Suttles said.
“Unless something changes, May 4 we’re supposed to go back to normal, full crew,” Fredenburg said.
The trustees are still available to the public through telephone calls and emails, but Suttles said contact has been “kind of quiet,” limited to a few comments and questions concerning code enforcement and the newly imposed parking ban.
“I’m surprised,” Suttles said. “When people are at home, sometimes they think of things or get consumed about what they normally wouldn’t in the everyday part of their life.”
Haun and Lees did not return phone calls asking for interviews for this story.