Friday morning, La-Grange Mayor Jim Thornton hosted Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz, West Point Mayor Steve Tramell, and Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews in a virtual roundtable discussion to go over the recent changes made to each municipality’s emergency ordinance.
Mayor Thornton explained that all four emergency ordinance amendments passed by the cities and the county were all based on a model ordinance provided by the Georgia Municipal Association. The model ordinance was sent out after Governor Brian Kemp instructed cities and counties to do what’s best for their area, rather than having a statewide mandate. Local governments could then decide how far they need to go to best stop the spread of COVID-19.
Thornton noted that each of emergency ordinance amendments approved by their respective board and councils were very similar except for a few differences.
Mayor Thornton reminded that LaGrange City Council voted unanimously to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, temporarily close certain businesses, and close restaurant dining areas due to the COVID19 outbreak, but noted they stopped short of enacting a curfew.
Mayor Tramell explained that his council enacted similar retractions, but took it a step further and imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Tramell explained that this was done to help their smaller emergency service departments from having to deal with as many overnight issues, but noted their goal isn’t to arrest people who are simply out of their homes at night.
“Our police officers are not going to be out there with the paddy wagon, picking people up and taking them to jail. We’re going to enforce the curfew, but if you’re driving to work, if you’re driving through town, you’re not going to be effected,” said Tramell. “If you’re congregating in a group at 3 a.m. we’re going to address that, though.”
Mayor Stankiewicz explained that Hogansville approved an ordinance similar to LaGrange, also electing to not impose a curfew, but advised the council decided to not close the dining rooms of restaurants. However, he did note that all but one restaurant in Hogansville had already closed their dining rooms.
Chairman Crews advised that the county’s ordinance was nearly identical to LaGrange’s, explaining that they too, decided that the curfew was unnecessary.
Crews also explained that these decisions have been very difficult and he and his colleagues understand that the emergency ordinances are effecting people’s livelihoods, some more than others, but everything that’s being done is for everyone’s safety.
“We feel your pain. We know it’s bad, but we are trying to make decisions that are best for everyone in our community,” said Crews. “We, as citizens, must be willing to make some sacrifices. I know it’s tough, but that’s what makes us great.”
Crews also implored citizens to not call 911 to report people violating the emergency ordinance standards, saying they need to be focused on immediate emergencies. Crews recommended emailing the Health Department. The mayors also recommended calling city hall if businesses are ignoring the ordinance.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.