City Hall News: March 23-27, 2020
In response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mayor Van Broughton declared a citywide state of emergency last Tuesday, following similar declarations by the president and the governor of West Virginia. The Randolph County Commission declared a countywide state of emergency Thursday.
State-of-emergency declarations mainly affect the internal operations of government agencies, by enabling greater flexibility and agility in responding to emergency conditions. They don’t automatically impose restrictions on private citizens or businesses. However, Governor Justice has ordered certain additional restrictions, which may be reviewed here: www.governor.wv.gov/news.
Based on recommendations from the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the City of Elkins has suspended in-person council and committee meetings. One of the current federal recommendations is to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people; because Elkins City Council has ten members, and meetings are also attended by five administrative officers and the city attorney, it would be impossible to hold meetings as usual while still complying with this important safety advice.
City staff is currently researching how to hold meetings using an online and telephone conferencing platform that would enable the public to both share comments and observe council’s discussion. Right now, special meetings of council’s Finance Committee and council itself are posted for next Wednesday, at 9 a.m., and Thursday, at 7 p.m., respectively. Look for an update on how you can join these meetings remotely early next week.
Meanwhile, all core city services remain in operation, but certain procedures have been modified to limit non-essential contact and keep the public and city workers as safe as possible. Please visit the city’s news blog (www.cityofelkinswv.com/city-blog) for information about alternate means of paying utility bills and municipal court fines, obtaining building permits, and engaging with other city services during the city hall closure.