Backus: Council declares emergency because of COVID-19; meetings to proceed by teleconference

Reflections of the American and Minnesota state flags are seen on the glass next to a yellow notice taped to the inside of the entry door into Backus City Hall.

The Backus City Council met for mere minutes, sitting spread throughout the council chambers Wednesday, March 25, for an emergency meeting related to the COVID-19 situation.

The council took action on two items: first, affirming Mayor Kurt Sawyer's declaration of a local emergency due to COVID-19 concerns; and second, to make plans to conduct meetings during the pandemic by teleconference.

The mayor's declaration was prompted, in part, by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's issuance of a peacetime emergency plan. The local declaration may qualify the city for assistance, if necessary, in the coming months. The city's and Walz's declaration of an emergency may grant the city the option of issuing revolving loan funds to local businesses.

The council laid out plans for future teleconference meetings in which participants will have discussions from home while Clerk Ann Swanson is in attendance at the council chambers directing the meeting and taking minutes. Participants, including the mayor, council members, media, the public and department heads, will receive a link and login details to allow them to access and participate in the meeting.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at


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Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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