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Katie Copenhaver, Freelance Reporter
3:23 pm CDT March 18, 2020

Glencoe Village President Lawrence Levin declared a civil state of emergency, effective immediately, at the Tuesday March 17 regular monthly meeting of the Glencoe Board of Trustees. 

His declaration is good for an initial seven days and was extended unanimously by vote of the trustees until June 18, which is their regular monthly meeting three months from now. The board will not meet again until that time, unless there is a call for a special meeting to reassess or end the emergency declaration.

Glencoe’s emergency declaration, Levin noted, follows the national state of emergency declared by President Donald Trump and the Illinois state of emergency declared by Governor J.B. Pritzker last week. The declaration allows Village Manager Philip Kiraly to take three actions to combat the spread of the coronavirus: 

1) Enter into contracts to purchase goods and services,

2) Cooperate with other government agencies and 

3) Make emergency staffing changes.

Kiraly noted that neighboring communities Deerfield, Highland Park and Winnetka have also recently put into place emergency declarations to combat the virus spread. He also said it is important to stipulate that Glencoe’s declaration does not call for a curfew or the closing of any businesses. It is instead meant to be a tool to calm the fears of residents about the effects of the virus on their lives.

The emergency declaration was allowed after the board unanimously approved an ordinance amending the village code regarding emergency management and disaster authority. Village Attorney Steven Elrod explained that the State of Illinois grants this authority to municipalities, and a number of communities have not yet caught up to the state law.

“It’s good prudent practice to have [emergency procedures and protocols] part of the code,” Elrod said.

Responding to questions from Trustee Peter Mulvaney, Elrod said, “Nothing that we would do would supersede the state.”

Yet, Elrod noted that with the approved ordinance, the Glencoe village president can declare a state of emergency independent of the state and nation.

Kiraly reported that for the week of March 16 Village Hall and the Glencoe Golf Club have been closed to the public.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated our discussions and operations for the week,” Kiraly said.

He explained that many village staff are working from home, including employees in the village manager’s office and the finance department. They are, however, continuing to answer the main phone lines. Plus, 911 calls are being answered and acted upon through the partnership with Glenview.

“Today we imposed some limitations on police functions by limiting access to the public safety lobby,” Kiraly said.

Daily operations of the Public Works Department will be limited, but not water main, sewer and water treatment work.

Residents are encouraged to watch the village website for daily updates, Kiraly said. There will also be a special e-news blast sent out to residents. Then, the village will make an announcement this Friday, March 20, if municipal closures will continue next week.

“I’ve just been awestruck by the response by village staff,” Trustee Barbara Miller said. “I feel as safe as possible living in this community.”

Levin thanked the village manager and public works director for working day and night to respond to the virus outbreak.

It should be noted that Trustees Joe Halwax, Barbara Miller, Peter Mulvaney and Gary Ruben attended the meeting in person in the council chamber while Levin and Trustees Gail Lissner and Jonathan Vree joined by phone.