County extends state of emergency to May 15, city balks

By Linda Trest, Staff Writer
Posted 4/15/20

During their Tuesday morning meeting, the Franklin County Commissioners voted to maintain and extend the state of emergency orders for the county until May 15.

Reported cases of COVID-19 in the …

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County extends state of emergency to May 15, city balks

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During their Tuesday morning meeting, the Franklin County Commissioners voted to maintain and extend the state of emergency orders for the county until May 15.

Reported cases of COVID-19 in the county held steady at 84 from Monday through Tuesday. “The actions taken by everyone in the county are paying dividends,” said Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker.

The extension of the state of emergency will allow the county to qualify for limited assistance in certain areas. Procuring protective personal equipment for first responders is an example.

The commissioners also agreed to extend restrictions on some businesses from the existing deadline of April 17 until Friday, April 24. These include limiting the number of people allowed in public places, restrictions on golf courses, closing barber and beauty salons, tatoo parlors, gyms, etc. and encouraging social distancing of at least six feet.

These are the actions taken and which most citizens have abided by that Brinker feels have slowed the spread.

City leaders faced a similar decision in their regular meeting last Thursday, but waffled on a decision.

“We are already under martial law,” Ward 2 Alderman Ed Adams declared when voicing his opposition.

According to merriam-webster.com, martial law is: 1: the law applied in occupied territory by the military authority of the occupying power. 2: the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety.

Neither of those definitions seem to apply to the city, yet the board of aldermen voted to table the issue to their May meeting.

The meeting was held in virtual form via a Facebook platform. No one was allowed in City Hall for the meeting other than the participants.  For those watching at home, the audio was so poor that many portions of the discussions could not be understood. A camera captured only the mayor and two aldermen.

These shortcomings were addressed during the meeting and hopefully an alternative method will be chosen before the next meeting.

One of the provisions of the ordinance that was tabled, was allowing the mayor to modify the time, place and procedure for board meetings.

Attorney Dave Struebel advised the board that the Sunshine Law, was not really designed to address the crisis being faced with the coronavirus pandemic.

Struebel advised that should a quorum not be reached for a meeting, bills could still get paid with the consensus of those present.

“What would be the consequences?” Struebel rhetorically asked the board.

A link to the meeting has been posted on the city’s website, geraldmo.com.

In March, the city agreed to follow the county’s recommendations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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