1945 Day: “We do it July 18 or we don’t do it at all.”
The City of Trenton’s Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on June 22 to discuss 1945 Day and whether or not it will occur this year.
The Board invited City Attorney Steven Rodham to clarify what issues could possibly prevent the event from taking place. Rodham mentioned two major problems that have to be addressed for the event to occur.
The first issue is social distancing. Rodham said the event, which expects around 500 to 750 people in attendance, would violate Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s current orders regarding how many people can attend gatherings. Kemp’s orders state that no more than 50 people can meet in a gathering. However, these orders are in effect until July 12 and while the Board expects a higher maximum number of people allowed in gatherings, Rodham does not believe Kemp will boost the number to 500 plus.
Rodham said that as of right now, if the event takes place with Kemp’s current orders in place, the result would be a violation, which is considered a misdemeanor charge.
Rodham added that he cannot make the decision to go ahead with the event and risk the charge.
“I don’t tell the commission what to do,” Rodham said. “Legal or illegal it can do whatever it wants.”
Rodham also said that being charged with the misdemeanor likely would not happen anyway.
“I don’t think the city has enough police personnel to go around and cite everybody,” Rodham said. “So, I think the governor’s enforcement of any violations would be very unlikely.”
When asked by Wooten if the event should go ahead as planned if Kemp’s orders do not change, Rodham said no.
“My best answer to that would probably be not right now,” Rodham said.
“Because of COVID,” Wooten said.
“Right,” Rodham said.
Nathan Wooten chimed in from the back of the room saying that Catoosa County is planning to go ahead with its event.
“How can they do it and we can’t?”
“They’re under the same restrictions we are, but that is their county event,” said Trenton Mayor Alex Case, adding that he doesn’t know how they are able to do the event.
“We believe people are ready to get out of their homes and mingle again,” Nathan Wooten said. “We believe this is a good way to do that.”
“People are responsible for themselves,” Monda Wooten said. “If I was afraid to go somewhere, I wouldn’t go.”
The second elephant in the room is an insurance and liability issue. Rodham said the city’s insurance would only cover the city in any situation and not those involved in putting the event together. Since the city is not involved in the event’s planning or operations, those who are involved must seek their own insurance.
“[The city would involve itself] if [it] would,” Streets Commissioner Monda said.
Rodham said that those involved in the event will have to add the city as an additional insurer and that all vendors at the event would have to get their own liability insurance policy for the event to go ahead and prevent the city from a potential lawsuit if anything goes wrong.
The Board discussed moving the date of the event to July 18 if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the insurance policies are addressed. All Commissioners agreed with the decision.
“I wish that this was a city and county-sponsored event,” Nathan Wooten said. “They have never shown an interest in participating.”
Nathan added that he and the others in charge of the event will not consider moving the date past July 18.
“We do it July 18 or we don’t do it at all,” Nathan said.
Nathan then announced that he had just received a text message from an insurance provider that claimed to have a policy that could cover all vendors and those planning the event.
“I would have to look at the language but from what the insurance guy says, it would work,” Rodham said.
Case said that the Board will wait for an official copy of the policy to see if it satisfies the insurance issue.
A motion was then made to vote for the event to occur on July 18 if COVID-19 restrictions change and the insurance issue is resolved.
Before calling for a vote, Nathan Wooten was asked again if he would consider changing the date a second time.
“I wouldn’t be in favor of [changing the date again],” Nathan Wooten said. “This is just beginning to get too hard. We’ve already moved it once.”
A vote was then called, resulting in a unanimous yes.