The Town of Dunn’s annual town meeting went virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, April 21.

Cathy Hasslinger, the town’s clerk, treasurer and business manager, provided board members and residents with an update, using Google Hangouts, on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the town’s operations. She also spoke on how two grants have helped beef up the town’s recreational trails and the boat launch.

Annual town meetings are hosted each April, and residents in the town 18 or older are given direct power as electors – they don’t need to own property to have a voice. Residents can make motions to bring an issue of important governance up for a vote.

The town received a $29,885 grant in 2019 from Dane County for trail, boat launch repairs, dredging and tree replacement at Heritage Park. The town also received a state Department of Natural Resources grant in 2019 for $6,620 to develop a hiking trail in Simpson Park, restore a native prairie and plant trees.

Town parks and trails are still open, but because of the state’s Safer at Home order, playground equipment and the Spartan Hills basketball court are closed until further notice.

Hasslinger said parks and trails in the town will only remain open if safety practices are being followed, adding that residents should wear a mask, scarf or bandana over their mouth and nose when at town parks and trails.

Hasslinger also said there have been concerns about residents packing into the town’s storm shelters when there is severe weather like a tornado, high winds or excessive heat, based on an Emergency Management conference call she attended on disasters.

The town’s storm shelter, built in 2009, in response to a 2005 tornado that devastated parts of Dunn and Stoughton, serves more than 200 residents in the Bayview mobile home community off Highway 51. It will remain open, she said, as town officials feel the site is large enough to allow for social distancing if people stay with their household groups, don’t move around and wear masks and sanitize their hands.

“There is more risk staying at home than there is being at the storm shelter during severe weather,” Hasslinger said.

The town is working to get masks and signage, she added.