SUMITON – First responders are prepared to deal with the developing COVID-19 crisis but are altering interactions with the public, Sumiton city leaders learned at Tuesday's council meeting.
Mayor Petey Ellis Ellis asked Fire Chief David Waid if the fire department had the tools and supplies to deal with the current situation. The department anticipated that the coronavirus situation would worsen, so he ordered additional supplies in February, according to Waid. “We have adequate supplies right now,” he said.
Waid explained that he learned on President Trump's recent news conference that there are people who can be carriers of the coronavirus and not have any symptoms.
“We’re looking at having to change our hours to deal with this,” he said.
The fire department is also planning to stop doing routine blood pressure checks and other checks for the public at the station. “We’ll probably put a tent out front and treat people if they're sick, so that we can do our best to keep the fires station clean,” Waid said.
Ellis is in the process of getting signs printed to direct the public to use the night deposit boxes instead of coming inside the city hall to make payments for such things as their utility bills. “We’ve had these for some time, but they are underused,” he said. Ellis is encouraging people to mail their payments or use the dropbox, located on the wall to the right just before entering the door into the city hall.
Waid recommended that the mayor and council close the city hall and the library to the public until this threat subsides. “We need to do our part to limit as much contact with the virus as possible,” Waid said.
Ellis agreed, noting he wants two clerks to work during regular business hours to answer the phones and do the routine work that must be done each day.
In other action, the council:
• Heard Ellis announce that the Sumiton Public Library would close to the public Tuesday afternoon. The two staff members at the library will stay on-site to answer calls and completely disinfect the library as well as perform other maintenance tasks. “We want zero public contact,” Ellis said. Librarian Lori Jackson said that the book drops would be closed until the library reopens. Patrons will retain the books until the library reopens.
• Heard Ellis announce that the Sumiton Community Center had adopted the recommendations of the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) organizations. The community center will continue to provide meals, but the seniors must pick them up outside the facility.
• Heard Ellis announce that the municipal court was suspended as of Monday. “You can still pay your fines in the overnight drop box," he said.
In a general discussion before adjournment, Ellis said that the street and sanitation department would continue.
• Approved a motion to pay the annual audit invoice for the City of Sumiton and the utility departments in the city. The total cost of the audits is $22,950.
• Read a petition for annexation from Donald Flippo for property he owns on Bethel Road. The council will post the petition and vote on it at the next regular council meeting on April 7.
• Heard a request to amend the bereavement policy. Ellis thinks the policy needs to be amended but decided to take action on it at the next regular council meeting.