I am hopeful that Governor’s Cooper’s Phase one plan will be on track to go into effect tomorrow at 5 p.m. I know our merchants will be glad to open their stores, albeit on a limited basis.
I have received multiple inquiries as to why the town has not required wearing face coverings. At last Friday’s special meeting, the board endorsed and reiterated that face masks/coverings are highly recommended but not mandated. The board had received a recommendation from the Highlands Chamber of Commerce that they too supported not mandating a mask requirement.
Face coverings and social distancing in public spaces is still an important practice. Dr. Deborah Birx, who along with Dr. Anthony Fauci advises President Trump, recently expressed her concern that some members of the public feel that these measures should not be followed. She stated such behaviors, if practiced, will likely translate into a resurgence of COVID-19. So my advise remains the same, please practice social distancing and use face covering in enclosed public spaces such as stores. Also, please do frequent hand washing.
Last Friday I presided over a special town board meeting to address issues related to our state of emergency. It was held by way of Zoom at 8:30 a.m. A typical in person town board meeting usually has no more than 30 attendees. Special meetings, like the one on Friday, normally have no more than a handful of visitors.
The person coordinating the Friday Zoom believed that setting the participant level at 100 would be more than enough. I suspect he was also trying to save the town money. To everyone’s surprise over 100 people signed on, so some other folks could not sign in to the meeting. I liken it to us having an in person meeting in a room designed for forty, but 100 people show up. There’s another way to look at it. If we had had a face-to-face meeting at the Highlands Community Center, practiced social distancing, and over 100 people came, the same problem of not having enough space might have occurred.
A budget workshop meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. today by way of Zoom. Five hundred spaces have been allotted for the meeting. I apologize for the meeting problem last Friday. It was not intentional, our staff had no idea that over 100 people would want to attend.
I suspect the board meetings will go back to in person sessions either in June or July. With that said, the Zoom type option for distant attendees will still be in place.
I encourage everyone to sign up for the Town of Highlands Sunshine List. Signup can be done by calling Town Hall at 828-526-2118 and asking to be placed on the Sunshine List. Our staff will take down your name and email address. From that point on you will receive all town notices, Zoom information, and all materials commissioners review at any given meeting.
The budget workshop Zoom information is on the town website.