CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators appeared to discuss the possibility of purchasing machines to process rapid tests for COVID-19 during the executive session of its meeting Monday, but tabled a resolution on the floor to take action afterwards.
Following the executive session of the board’s Services Committee meeting Monday, Legislator Margaret G. Haggard, D-Potsdam, moved an impromptu unwritten resolution to give County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle authorization to purchase rapid COVID-19 testing machines for the county.
The move brought quick ire from Legislator Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, who acknowledged the topic was discussed in executive session and asked Mrs. Haggard to elaborate.
“We just had a discussion in executive session, which we can’t talk about, but the resolution is required to ‘do something,’” Mr. Acres said, immediately drawing some emotive facial reaction from board members on Zoom. “What is ‘do something’? What is the purchase? What are we doing here? A resolution requires us to have to do something. What is this specifically?”
“I would like to empower Ms. Doyle to make the purchase as she sees fit of the rapid testing machines that are needed in the county at this time,” Mrs. Haggard replied.
Later in the exchange it was revealed that Ms. Doyle requested, and Mrs. Haggard’s resolution would pertain to, $100,000 for two Rheonix rapid testing machines.
“The County is concerned with the increase this month in positive COVID-19 cases,” Ms. Doyle said in an email Tuesday. “In an ongoing review of the challenges that face the County, the area of testing and turn around for results has continued to complicate the response. One potential consideration is to take a look at the Rheonix testing machines and the impact it could have on the testing environment here.”
Mrs. Haggard’s resolution was met with opposition from Mr. Acres and several other members of the board who said they wanted a more specific resolution, as well as more information about the need and potential use of the testing apparatuses.
Legislator Harry A. Smithers II, R-Gouverneur, moved to table the resolution until next week’s Finance Committee meeting. The move to table passed 8-7 in a vote that blurred party lines. Democrats Rick Perkins, D-Potsdam, and Nicole Terminelli, D-Massena, joined Republicans in voting against the motion to table. Legislators John H. Burke, R-Norwood; Larry D. Denesha, R-DeKalb; and James E. Reagen, R-Ogdensburg, sided with Democrats.