Coronavirus is a silent factor in city meeting

  • Though Toccoa commissioners did not discuss the coronavirus in Monday's public meeting, Mayor Terry Carter said the city had considered taking actions to prevent its spread.
    Though Toccoa commissioners did not discuss the coronavirus in Monday's public meeting, Mayor Terry Carter said the city had considered taking actions to prevent its spread.
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    The effects of the coronavirus were palpable during the City of Toccoa's Monday meeting.
    City commissioners were seated six-feet apart in front of the commission dias in an effort to practice social distancing.
    City manager Billy Morse and city attorney John Dickerson were seated in the audience chairs.
    City clerk Fredda Wheeler was seated off to one side.
    The only spectators present other than city officials were representatives of the news media.
    Mayor Terry Carter said at the beginning of the meeting he had thought to petition to limit the meeting to only official business, but decided to allow chaplain Paul Garrison, pastor of Hill Street Baptist Church, to give an invocation prayer due to the times and the need for prayer.
    Though matters such as the coronavirus were not among items listed on the agenda, Carter confirmed that city commissioners had addressed issues such as the closing of city businesses.
    Carter said commissioners held off on approving a joint resolution with the Stephens County government to see what Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was going to announce Monday night.
    "We were holding off because the governor was going to make an announcement," Carter said. Tuesday.
    Kemp's new regulations Monday to stop the spread of the coronavirus limited large gatherings to 10 people, closed bars and nightclubs, and ordered "shelter in place" for residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, those who have chronic lung disorder, those undergoing cancer treatment, and populations in the Department of Public Health Administrative Order.
    Carter said the city would have a called meeting to approve a joint resolution with Stephens County that also would close bars and nightclubs, limit gathering to 10 people or less, and possibly close the dining room of restaurants.
    The city's approval, however, hinged on whether the county approved the resolution Tuesday evening, Carter said.
    The county approved a resolutions backing Kemp’s guidelines at Tuesday’s meeting.
    Also on Tuesday, Carter said the city is reviewing an advisory document from the Georgia Municipal Assocation (GMA) that was released Tuesday morning urging cities to close all "non-essential" businesses.
    City manager Billy Morse said Tuesday that the city had just received the GMA document and that it was unknown at that time if any action would be taken upon it.
    Morse said it was a "model ordinance" from GMA should cities want to enact any such policy.
    "I don't know that we'll adopt any or all of it," Morse said.
    In other business at Monday's meeting, city commissioners unanimously approved a fire services agreement with Stephens County providing services south to the Toccoa Bypass and west toward Old Quarry Road.
    Commissioners also unanimously approved a variance request for property at 81 Elm Drive to allow a two-car garage and retaining wall.