Most village services are halted for now to curb the spread of COVID-19, declared a pandemic last week by the World Health Organization and a public health emergency by the village.

The Oregon Area Senior Center, Oregon Police Department, public works department, Oregon Public Library and Oregon Area Fire/EMS District have begun working to mitigate the virus’s spread – with most providing only essential services.

On Monday, March 16, Village Board passed Resoultion 20-11, which delegates powers to village administrator Mike Gracz.

Those include suspending or canceling village programs, closing or restricting access to village buildings and facilities, canceling meetings, authorizing village staff to work from home and leave from work consistent with state and federal policies, permitting payment of village bills and leading spending of contingency funds.

“This resolution is intended to allow the village to conduct business efficiently and to keep operations moving smoothly,” village president Jeanne Carpenter told the Observer in an email. “We are depending on residents to stay at home and lower the risk of infection to help flatten the curve.”

The village resolution is in direct response to Gov. Tony Evers declaring a public health emergency Thursday, March 12, and President Donald Trump a national emergency the next day.

The document stated if the village administrator is absent or incapacitated, such powers may be exercised by the village finance director. If either are incapacitated, the powers fall to the public works director, then the village president. According to the document, such delegation of authority is effective until June 15.

Village departments offered their own actions for curbing the spread at the meeting.

Public works director Jeff Rau advised in a March 11 memo to the board that personnel clean department buildings and that staff stay home if they suspect themselves to be ill.

And both library director Jennifer Endres Way and senior center director Rachel Brickner said the facilities they lead are shut down until further notice, with events postponed or canceled as of March 16. The senior center is still providing essential services, including delivered meals, meals to go, case management and transportation.

Interim police chief Jennifer Pagenkopf said the police department will avoid in-person contact as much as possible.

“The Village of Oregon is working closely with leaders of Dane County and the State of Wisconsin to follow department guidelines set by our national, state and local health departments to help reduce the rate of infection and keep our residents safe,” Carpenter said.

Email Emilie Heidemann at or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.