FERDINAND — The Town of Ferdinand is beginning to show some signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by loosening its emergency order.

An emergency order and mask requirement has been extended at every monthly Town Council meeting for a year now. But at Tuesday’s meeting, President Ken Sicard announced that some guidelines were to relax and several public areas were to reopen Wednesday.

“Basically, we’re opening the town back up and trying to allow everyone access to our facilities and stay on top of everything and keep it sanitized as best we can,” he said.

The Town Hall Municipal Complex and 18th Street Park are now available to the public again, although the Town Hall drive-thru will still be functional and encouraged. Additionally, the senior citizens center is now available for use and rental again with an additional $20 fee to cover sanitation costs.

Town employees will now be held responsible for checking their own symptoms in place of monitoring such as temperature checks and will be able to immediately return to work after trips within the continental U.S. without a quarantine period. Personal protective equipment will still be provided to town employees and masks and social distancing will still be required.

Town employees who are eligible are encouraged to get vaccinated, Sicard said, and will be provided two hours of paid time off if vaccine appointments are scheduled during work hours.

Future town meetings will now have sign-in sheets that will act as self-contact tracing if anyone present later is diagnosed with COVID-19. Meetings will continue to have a Zoom option for those who do not wish to attend in person. Sicard said the town hopes to continue to provide Zoom options even after the pandemic is over.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Dubois County is in a blue advisory level, which refers to the COVID-19 guidelines the county has to follow. Sicard said that as the county continues to recover and more people are vaccinated, the town will continue to relax guidelines when appropriate but also remain vigilant.

The council also:

• Approved a request to advertise for a new employee for the Water and Wastewater Department.

• Approved the purchase of new GIS mapping software for an initial payment of $2,000 and then an annual fee of $1,500 for the following four years. This service will allow utilities information to be available on a mobile tablet so departments can see it while on the scene.

• Approved the request for four employees to attend an American Water Works Association meeting for $500. The meeting helps the employees attain the hours they have to earn to continue certifications.

• Heard that the park department will be requiring a COVID-19 response plan for any upcoming events or leagues. The plans must be in compliance with Dubois County Health Department guidelines.

• Heard from Town Manager Chris James that the summer park and rec program CHECK, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, is set to continue this year with necessary COVID-19 restrictions.

• Heard an update about Habitat for Humanity from Executive Director Michael Richard. He said the organization has only one property it’s looking at to build.

• Approved the rezoning of approximately 3.6 acres in a subdivision from a B2 commercial area to an R1 residential area.

• Passed an ordinance that will make bill documentation easier and more efficient for Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Miller.

• Heard that town cleanup dates will be May 4-6.

• Approved an agreement with Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center to continue to provide health screening services to town employees for a reduced price.

• Approved amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance. Amendments included changes in language for Airbnbs, parcel frontages and accessory structures, and damaged structures within residential areas.