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NEWBERRY – Newberry City Commissioners convened an emergency meeting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, to consider and ultimately approve, Newberry Emergency Resolution 2020-14. The resolution was being considered in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and mandates from state and federal government agencies. Declaring a state of emergency also allows the City to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement, should the need arise.

The state of emergency became effective at 6 p.m., March 17, and can be extended for additional seven-day periods, as may be necessary.

With the approval of this resolution, Commissioners also waived the procedures and formalities otherwise required of the City in performance of public work and taking whatever prudent action is necessary to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

The resolution also waives procedures for entering into contracts, incurring obligations, employment of permanent and temporary workers, utilization of volunteer workers, rental of equipment, acquisition and distribution, with or without compensation, of supplies, materials, and facilities, appropriation and expenditure of public funds and also on the specific limits on the authority of the city manager to expend funds and enter into agreements.

City Hall drive-through will remain open during this period. Open air parks will also remain open, and restrooms and other park facilities will be sanitized twice daily. The Building Department will remain open. Easton will be closed, but the daycare center will remain open and the City is urging all daycare centers to remain open to allow emergency personnel to be able to attend to their jobs.

City Manager Mike New said that on Monday he anticipates a program will be instituted for all non-essential employees to work from home.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe remarked that the elections will continue on April 14, but he encouraged people to use mail-in ballots if possible. Rather than having everyone wait to vote inside the Municipal Building, he said they will remain outside and each ballot box will be set up six feet apart.

At an earlier meeting Marlowe said Newberry High School had offered to host an election forum for candidates. Instead, he said he would interview two candidates at a time and have the interviews on YouTube so voters could get to know the candidates and what they stand for.

“City Commission meetings will be limited to once a month during this crisis,” said New. Citizens are encouraged to watch the meetings electronically to reduce the amount of people that have to sit together in the audience.

The Elder Care program will continue, but will be required to prepare meals for take-out instead of eating in. Newberry High School is handing out lunches and breakfasts for the following day between the hours of 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Anyone picking up food for 10 or more people is encouraged to call 352-472-1101 in advance.

City events being postponed include WestFest, the Walkathon, and the April 4 Soil Ceremony. New dates for these events will be announced at a later date.

This state of emergency extends throughout the geographic confines of the City of Newberry. Newberry will coordinate its emergency plans with the County Emergency Operations Center.

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