During the Nov. 9 Trenton Commission meeting, the commission discussed the possibility of reopening the civic center despite the steady stream of COVID-19 cases in Dade County.
Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell were the first to express interest in re-opening the civic center. Mayor Alex Case said that guidelines would have to be established to not only protect the residents of Trenton but also to protect the city government if residents test positive for COVID-19 due to the re-opening of the civic center.
“We can’t live in a bubble,” Wooten said. “If they don’t want to come to the Civic Center, they don’t have to.”
“We’re still under executive orders under Dec. 9,” Case said. “There have to be guidelines. I haven’t researched it enough but something has to be done. We’re not slowing down either. We’ve had 21 new cases [on Nov. 9].”
Case said that he is worried about the city’s liability and the overall risk of re-opening the civic center.
“I’m concerned,” Case said. “That’s my job. I’m not doing this to scare people.”
Case also said that he believes the commission should observe how other cities in Georgia are tackling the issue.
“I’ve been to several places in Georgia and outside of Georgia,” Wooten said.
“I have too but we’ve got to have something in place,” Case said. “You all are more than welcome to grab at it and go with it.”
Case said that city employees will have to be on-site at the civic Center during operating hours to take temperatures, disinfect the inside of the facility, provide packaged lunches and ensure social distancing.
“If people are scared, they just won’t go,” Wooten said.
“There are guidelines on the CDC’s website for public gatherings,” Case said. “You’ve got stuff coming up so quick, you need to make a decision on this.”
“We wouldn’t want to be liable for it,” Police Commissioner Kirk Forshee said.
“We’re not liable if we put signs up,” Case said. “That’s a decision that you will have to make.”
Powell said that he would take a look at the guidelines needed to make reopening the civic center a reality and get a special-called meeting together to vote on the reopening in the coming weeks.
“I want to do what’s right and what’s safe,” Powell said. “It has been closed for a long time and we all know why. If we need to keep it closed, then we will.”
“We’re big boys and girls that shouldn’t have to be policed everywhere we go,” Wooten said.
“We’re under executive orders,” Case said.
“We can call a meeting as soon as you guys find all of that stuff out,” Forshee said.
Dade County Water and Sewer Authority Board Chair Eddie Cantrell was unanimously reappointed to a five-year term upon expressing his interest that he would like to continue his duties in that role to the commission.
Trenton Assistant Fire Chief Ansel Smith approached the board asking for just over $13,000 to provide 12 new helmets, 20 new hoods and 15 new boots for the fire department. Smith said the department’s helmets, hoods and boots are over a decade old and state requirements mandate that the specified equipment be replaced after 10 years.
“I think it has been a long while since you all have had anything new,” Fire and Utilities Commissioner Lucretia Houts said.
“We make them last as long as we can,” Smith said. “The boots are well worth the price because we get more than enough out of them.”
The commission unanimously approved Smith’s request.
The commission gave its departmental reports during the regular meeting.
Forshee reported that the Trenton Police Department answered 490 calls during the month of October, conducted 1,891 business checks, made 29 arrests, completed 34 reports, responded to seven domestic calls, worked 12 accidents and made 219 traffic stops, resulting in 136 citations. Over $15,000 in fines were collected for October, with $140,970 in fines collected for the year.
Powell reported that Parks and Recreation handled eight animal control work orders. Softball activities at the park have been suspended.
“At this time, the park is just open for those who want to come down and enjoy the park,” Powell said.
Wooten said the Streets department handled 52 work orders and repaired several roads.
Houts reported that the sewer department conducted 32 underground locates, five emergency locates, 20 sewer calls, a sewer tap repair and a water main repair. The fire department had nine fire-related calls, responded to two accidents, four medical responses and were dispatched to 94 cancelled calls.
Case reported that the general fund balance is sitting at $482,913. Profit-loss for October saw a profit of $319,000. Total expenses for October were $189,800. Profit-loss for the year shows that the city has a gross profit of $1.3 million. Total expenses for the year were $1.4 million.
Case said that even though the city has a negative profit, November and December are the highest grossing revenue months for Trenton, which will boost them back into a positive profit.