Franklin County Government Center

Franklin County commissioners received a variety of messages leading up to their Sept. 14 vote on a resolution opposing possible federal vaccination requirements for many businesses.

The resolution, which the three commissioners approved unanimously, is in response to  President Joe Biden’s decision to direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop an emergency temporary standard that would give businesses with 100 or more employees the option to either require COVID-19 vaccinations or do weekly testing for unvaccinated employees. It is estimated the directive applies to more than 100 million workers, though many of them are likely already vaccinated. OSHA has yet to release draft regulations, so it is not clear when the mandate will take effect, according to the National Law Review.

The resolution adds that no county employees managed by the commission will be required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. It does encourage residents “to receive the vaccine.”

The emails were obtained by The Missourian through a Sunshine request to the county.

The county provided eight emails that were sent unprompted, four in favor of the resolution against the vaccine mandate and four against the commission resolution.

The county also provided screenshots of nine Facebook comments, nearly all of them opposed to the county’s resolution against the vaccine mandate.

That was a change from the commission meeting in which the resolution was passed. The vote received applause from those in attendance.

Several others who sent emails in support of the resolution responded to a copy of the ordinance Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker sent out. 

Among those writing in support of the commissioner’s decision were Alan and Jennifer Hannaford, of St. Clair.

“Thank you for your courage and wisdom in standing for liberty!” they wrote Sunday, Sept. 12, two days before the meeting where the vote took place.

On Friday, Sept. 10, Becky Duchene, of Chesterfield, wrote that she was “fighting for truth and freedom” in St. Louis County. “I am so proud of you for standing against the tyrannical regime of Joe Biden!” Duchene wrote.

A Sept. 13 email from the account of Cody Dames claimed that the vaccine requirements go against Missouri law. “I hope you will not allow people in Franklin county to be forced to make health decisions that should be made personally by that individual and could violate there personal or religious beliefs,” he wrote.

Debra Johnson wrote the night of Sept. 14, after the resolution passed, to thank commissioners for opposing Biden’s “unconstitutional executive orders.”

“These orders, if put into effect, would destroy our county and country,” she wrote.

Among those opposing the commission’s resolution was Mark Spann, of Krakow, who wrote Sept. 13, “It’s a mask, not a straight jacket.”

“What if we all just tried following the direction of SCIENCE and medical professionals who make their careers in infectious disease study and remediation, just try it for 6 months, all of us?” he wrote.

Jan Webb wrote the afternoon of Sept. 14, after the commission vote, that she did not understand resistance to federal efforts to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The government isn’t coming for our guns or mandating anything other than common sense efforts to get us out of this oppressive pandemic ... since apparently a lot of citizens do not have enough common sense to protect themselves - WHICH IN TURN THREATENS ME.”

Sarah Littrell described herself as “One (ticked) off Nurse,” and called the commissioners “country bumpkins” who value “fake freedom” in a late Sept. 14 email. She offered to educate commissioners on how the vaccine helps the community at large, “if I wouldn’t think that I would be speaking to a brick wall,” she wrote.

“You do NOT speak for the healthcare community, you have made your position known that you are against us when we need help,” Littrell wrote. “I sincerely hope none of you needs a ventilator. I hope no one has to watch you struggle to breathe. I hope no one has to use an iPad in order for you to say goodbye. But at least if that happens, a nurse will be there, whom you turned your back on.” 

Paige Shortal wrote a point-by-point response to part of the commission resolution on Sept. 13, including that commissioners approved a hepatitis A vaccine mandate for county food handlers in 2019.

Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker also said he received one profane voicemail opposing the commission’s resolution.

Brinker did receive some support from business officials in the community, including Diane Jones, general manager of KLPW radio.

“I think, if anything, Biden’s divisive combative overreaching power grab will hamper efforts to get more Americans fully vaccinated, thus defeating the purpose,” Jones wrote. “Unless, of course, the purpose is to change the headlines, appease the left, and further villainizing others.”

Bob Marquart, president and CEO of Heritage Community Bank and a Union alderman, replied Sept. 10 to an email with the commission’s proposed resolution. “Glad to see this ... what will parsons do?” he wrote, apparently referring to Gov. Mike Parson.