Reminder: Masks Required in Municipal Court

As a reminder, anyone appearing in Municipal Court, whether as a defendant or witness, must wear a face covering to reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

People without face coverings will not be admitted to the courtroom. If you are on trial or under subpoena, this will be considered a failure to appear. These safety precautions are based on an order of the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Learn more here.

Governor Orders Masks at All Times in Public Buildings

Warns noncompliance could result in criminal charges, additional shutdowns

Elkins, W. Va., November 13, 2020: At today’s coronavirus briefing, Governor Jim Justice made mask-wearing mandatary “at all times” in businesses and other public buildings, ordered state public schools to offer remote instruction only Dec. 1-3, and postponed the start of the winter sports season. (His executive order is here.)

Observing that the state has recently set records for daily hospitalizations and use of ICU beds, Justice warned that people who refuse to wear masks and businesses who fail to require masks risk triggering another shutdown of non-essential businesses. He also said that people who fail to comply with his executive orders could be charged with obstruction of justice.

As of 10 a.m. this morning, the W. Va. DHHR coronavirus.wv.gov website reports 565 deaths from COVID-19 in the state since the start of the pandemic, including 11 deaths reported on Thursday alone. There are currently 8,531 active cases statewide.

In Randolph County, according to DHHR, conditions have been worsening rapidly during the last week. Over the last seven days, the county’s infection rate has increased from 14.94 to 24.39, or more than 60 percent, while the percentage of positive tests has increased from 4.44 to 5.47, an increase of almost 25 percent.

As of yesterday, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department is reporting 69 current active cases in Randolph County, including two hospitalized patients.

Two Randolph County residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

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EPD Safety Advice for Halloween

From EPD Chief Travis Bennett:

“This Halloween is going to be different from past ones in many ways, but we all still need to work together to keep the kids safe.

“Parents, make sure your trick-or-treaters are visible to drivers by not using dark-colored costumes at night or at least adding reflective tape. Check costume masks to see if they restrict your child’s field of vision.

“Drivers, if you’re out and about on Halloween night, please slow down and keep your eyes open. Children might be running across streets in the middle of the block and might not be paying attention to traffic because they’re so excited.

“Council has asked that everyone take steps to keep things as safe as possible during the pandemic. The most important things would be not attending indoor parties with people from multiple households, trying to keep good distance while walking from house to house, and using self-serve candy bowls or other similar ideas to reduce the need for close interactions.

“If we all work together, we can have a safe holiday. I wish a Happy Halloween to the kids and I hope everyone has a great night!”

Elkins Cancels 2020 Spring Cleanup

Elkins, W. Va., October 19, 2020: The 2020 Elkins Spring Cleanup event, postponed earlier this year, has now been cancelled, officials announced today. The event was postponed during the spring for safety reasons and now will not be rescheduled during 2020.

The initial postponement came during the first month of the coronavirus epidemic in West Virginia. The decision to postpone was based on public health recommendations and advice from the West Virginia Public Service Commission about reducing the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus on surfaces. Because of that postponement, the city missed the ideal window of opportunity for providing this courtesy service to city residents and businesses.

“The problem is really one of timing,” says Bob Pingley, the city’s operations manager. “Providing the Spring Cleanup service ties up our street department personnel for about two weeks straight. Spring is a good time for that, because by then we’ve usually wrapped up with plowing and other winter work but haven’t yet started doing street repairs and other typical summer work. At this point, it really doesn’t look like we can fit it in this year without sacrificing some projects that need to take a higher priority at this point.”

For households and businesses that need to dispose of large items now and cannot wait until next spring, one option is to request a special pickup. For information about special pickups, please visit: www.bit.ly/ElkinsSpecialPickup. Items can also be delivered directly to Tygarts Valley Sanitation or other licensed waste collection facilities.

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Elkins Resuming In-person Meetings

Elkins, W. Va., September 10, 2020: Elkins Common Council and its committees will return to in-person meetings effective immediately, Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton announced today. A memo from Mayor Van Broughton explained that the first in-person committee meetings will be held next week, while the regular council meeting of September 17 will be postponed to September 24 to allow time for the installation of protective plexiglass barriers in council chambers.

“Council members have made clear that they feel they cannot deliberate effectively unless they are in the same room together,” says Sutton. “We haven’t found a workable way to enable that while also broadcasting the meetings audibly for the public, so there is no way forward but to return to fully in-person meetings as soon as possible.”

City of Elkins suspended in-person meetings upon Mayor Broughton’s declaration of a citywide state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 virus pandemic on March 17. The primary obstacle to in-person council meetings was the size of the group that is required to be in attendance.

“Elkins has a ten-person city council, which is one of the largest in the state,” says Sutton. “There are also six city staff members who are required to attend council meetings. That’s a big crowd to try to space out six feet apart while still enabling the meeting to be audible online, and of course we had to accomplish both of these goals  given the governor’s orders and recommendations to stay out of public spaces as much as possible.”

Instead, and in accordance with advice issued by the West Virginia Ethics Commission, which administers the state’s open meetings laws, virtual meetings were held on the Zoom platform, with councilors, staff, and members of the public all joining remotely. However, this approach encountered some technical glitches and one “Zoom bombing” attack, and councilors increasingly expressed interest in being able to deliberate in person.

In response, the city clerk’s office ordered installation of a software solution that would bring the signal from the council-chamber sound board into a computer for broadcast over Zoom.

“The purpose of this solution was to enable councilors to deliberate in council chambers while letting the public listen to clear audio of the meeting online,” says Sutton.

This solution still didn’t solve the social distancing problem raised by a full meeting of council and its administrative officers, however, so at first the plan was to use this approach only for meetings of council’s three-member committees. However, the first two committee meetings that used this solution were plagued by audio issues.

“Councilors are intent on meeting in person, and we just don’t have a good way to enable them to do so while making clear audio of the meeting available online,” says Sutton. “So, starting next week, we’ll go to full in-person meetings once again, with both meeting participants and audience members able to gather in council chambers.”

Staff will continue to explore how to make the meeting audio available online, but the city’s experience so far suggests that this may not be feasible without significant additional cost.

The mayor’s memo outlines safety precautions that will be taken for these in-person meetings. These include maximum occupancy limitations for council chambers to ensure all audience members may be seated six feet apart, restrictions against entry by people suffering from the symptoms of or having tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and a requirement that face coverings be worn by all meeting participants and audience members except when addressing the meeting.

“It’s frustrating to have to leave the virtual option behind for the time being, because I think that offers a really good opportunity for attendance by people who otherwise might not be able to come to council meetings,” says Sutton. “The good news is that this change will eliminate a major distraction and allow council to focus even more strongly on doing the people’s business.”

Door Sign Available: Masks Required

Effective July 7, 2020, Governor Jim Justice announced an order requiring that “face coverings” be worn “in all public indoor places where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The governor’s office has now distributed a door sign that business owners and others can post to remind customers of this requirement. Click here to download the sign.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 9 or anyone with a medical condition that counter-indicates wearing a face covering. The governor emphasized that medical-grade masks are not required and that any sort of face covering would be acceptable. (Click here for sew/no-sew mask-making instructions).

Click here to read the governor’s order.

Elkins City Hall Reopening Monday, July 13, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., July 12, 2020: Elkins City Hall, which closed on Thursday and Friday because an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, will reopen Monday morning at 8 a.m. for normal hours of operation.

The purpose of the closure was to prevent any additional virus transmission while the extent of current spread within city hall staff was evaluated. On Thursday, city employees identified as having been in contact with the first affected employee were swabbed for the COVID-19 virus. As per DHHR and CDC guidelines, these employees then self-isolated while awaiting the results of their tests. During the closure, city hall maintenance staff performed deep cleaning of the first affected employee’s workspace and other nearby areas. (more…)

Update Concerning Elkins City Hall COVID-19 Closure

Reopening Date Depends on Pending Test Results

Elkins, W. Va., July 10, 2020: Elkins City Hall remains closed today after one city hall employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday. Reopening could occur as soon as Monday, July 13, but it is not yet possible to announce a firm reopening date. (more…)

City Hall Closed Starting Thursday

An Employee has Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Elkins City Hall will be closed starting Thursday, July 9 because an employee has tested positive for coronavirus.

We are not able to provide an estimated reopening date at this time. We will update this announcement as soon as possible after further evaluation of this complex and fluid situation.

Please expect delayed responses to any emails or phone messages directed at city staff.

Utilities customers and those needing to pay court costs are reminded that it is possible to do so online.

* To pay utility bills: https://bit.ly/ElkinsBills
* To pay court costs: www.municipalonlinepayments.com/elkinswv

Governor: Face Coverings Required Indoors

At today’s coronavirus briefing, Governor Jim Justice announced an order requiring that “face coverings” be worn “in all public indoor places where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The order is effective as of 12:01 a.m. on July 7, 2020.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 9 or anyone with a medical condition that counter-indicates wearing a face covering. The governor emphasized that medical-grade masks are not required and that any sort of face covering would be acceptable. (Click here for sew/no-sew mask-making instructions.

In remarks explaining the order and why he has issued it, the governor offered the following examples of when masks should be worn:

  • While entering and exiting your workplace (once inside, you may remove it if an appropriate distance can be maintained from coworkers)
  • At all times while in any retail establishment
  • When entering or exiting a restaurant or bar and otherwise when not actively engaged in the consumption of food or beverages

Click here to read the governor’s order.

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