The town council meeting looked a little different this month. The tables were configured differently allowing for six feet between council members and there were less chairs in the audience to allow for social distancing. Masks were worn on entry and temperatures were taken by town Marshall Matt Tallent. Many council members removed their masks once seated.

Council president Jerry Bragg called the meeting to order with the opening prayer and the pledge of allegiance. The minutes for July were approved and all claims were approved.

Steve Robertson reported on the Downtown Revitalization Grant Project change order. The extension in time has been reduced from the four weeks originally requested by the contractor to three weeks. Nellie Meek motioned to approve the extension; Ed Johnson seconded the motion. In discussion of the extension councilman Clyde Compton then brought up the percentage cited in report by Strand, noting only eleven percent of the project is complete, but fifty percent of the timeline has passed. He questioned if an extra twenty-one days was enough time to complete the project. Nellie agreed with Clyde it did not seem like enough time. Steve reported the contractor stated they had a three-week delay because of the virus and stressed any further delays would need to be backed up by evidence of the reason for the delay, delays in the delivery of material, etc. Clyde Compton expressed dismay the contractor was not able to be reached by phone during that three-week period. Ohmer expressed he felt like they were dragging their feet as it took them three weeks to submit their insurance documentation. Ohmer Miller and Clyde Compton voted no the extension; all the other council members voted yes. The motion passed 3 – 2.

Steve Robertson then submitted the wayfaring signage locations and the final signage version for the park project. Clyde motioned to approve them; Nellie seconded. The motion passed unopposed.

Mr. Robertson then gave a general construction update. The brick pavers have been delivered and the new light poles will be delivered August 25th. Duke will be on site to install the new light poles on September 3rd. As poles are removed the new ones will be immediately put in place. Installation will start on the West and North sides of the square. The lights on Harrison Street, Washington Street and inside the park are on the same circuit. The park will be unlit at night during this portion of installation. There was discussion of leaving the lights on inside the shelter house and in the band stand to keep the park lit for safety.

Trena Carter of ARA bought up reviewing the placement of permanent fixtures and reminded the council they will need to have a ribbon cutting ceremony and invite the state when the project is complete. Susan Thayer, President of Main Street, reviewed the diagrams with the placement of the permanent fixtures including benches, planters, trash cans with cigarette receptacles. She reminded council they would need to make decisions regarding what to do with the existing benches, planters and trash cans. David Clouse said the school was taking the existing trash cans for reuse. He also wanted to store the old cigarette butt cans at the utilities department to bring out for special events such as Heritage Days. Mr. Clouse was not in favor of relocating the old benches to Norman park as there is no concrete there to sit them on, and they would need to be moved each time the park was mowed.

The new benches were then discussed. Ed Johnson bought up a concern with the bench in front of the open lot on Jackson lot being so close to the street. It was designed that way to allow for future construction, but he felt it was a hazard and cars might hit it. Town legal council reminded everyone there must be a motion to consider all the equipment to be replaced surplus as it was town property. Clyde suggest the town hold a raffle to dispose of the old benches. Nellie Meek made a motion to consider all the fixtures to be replaced surplus; Ohmer seconded. Motion passed 5 – 0. Susan then reminded the council some of the existing benches had been donated in honor of someone with plaques designating this. It was decided the donors of those benches should be contacted to see if those individuals wanted the benches, as they had donated the money to purchase them. It was proposed they would be contacted to be given first right of refusal by Ed Johnson and seconded by Clyde. The motion passed 5 – 0.

Susan continued her Main Street updates with a recap of the August 7th cruise in. Two hundred and fifty dollars in donations was raised for the food bank. Councilwoman Meek stated she wants to cancel all future events based on COVID getting worse. There were too many people at the cruise in with very few in masks. She then read from the governor’s orders abut essential and non-essential gatherings stating gatherings over 100 people were prohibited. Legal council Scott Andrews said current orders were updated to gatherings not exceeding two hundred and fifty people.

Susan moved on to the Studebaker car show scheduled for Saturday September 26th. Sixty cars will be present and a rally to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment will also take place. The Yellow Trail Museum will host a mommy and me Votes for Women sash craft event from 10:00 am until 12:00 where women and girls will be able to craft sashes for themselves and their eighteen-inch dolls. Historical re-enactor Deb Sloane will present her program on suffrage and the attendees will March around the square. The march will be led by a reproduction of Alice Paul’s yellow, white and purple suffrage flag with thirty-six stars representing the number of states needed to ratify suffrage. The flag will be on display in the museum until the event and local residents are encouraged to sign the flag to show their support.

Susan moved on to another pending event, Christmas of Yesteryear. It will be moved back until December 4th this year. That is normally the date of the Yellow Trail’s homes tour, but a decision has been made to cancel the homes tour this year. Museum board members feel it is not safe to hold the tour this year. It would not be prudent to have so many people in and out of homes this year with the virus ongoing.

Council President Jerry Bragg remarked the events should happen as scheduled unless there is a spike in virus numbers. Clyde was in agreement with Mr. Bragg. Ohmer Miller believes everything should be cancelled until the virus passes. Matt Galbraith stated a COVID-19 plan needs to be submitted to the health department for any gatherings over two hundred and fifty people. Ed Johnson wanted to keep the events as planned unless there was a spike in numbers or the governor’s plan changes. Scott Andrews stated that all these events had been previously approved by council and it would take a motion of the board to cancel them. Clyde Compton maintained that once the events are approved the liability should be passed from the town to the event organizers. Nellie felt the board has a responsibility to the community, and deferred to Scott. He commented you had already approved one cruise in, why would you cancel the next scheduled one? Council President Jerry Bragg recommended passing the responsibility for masks, temperature taking and social distancing to the event organizers. Mr. Miller wants to cancel everything until the construction on the square is over and Covid-19 has passed to avoid liability. Accidents could happen in the construction zone and COVID infections could happen. Clyde again brought up liability should be passed to event organizers. He thought the square was supposed to be closed during the week while construction was going on, but it has been in use. He wanted the shelter house taped off during the week and removed during the weekend. There are also not any signs stating the square is closed. The construction company was supposed to fence areas off, but they have not done so. Trena will contact them about this.

Council moved on to the second reading of the fence ordinance 2020-01. It included an amendment to allow chain link and metal ornamental fences. Clyde motion to pass it; Ed seconded. Matt Galbraith pointed out there was nothing in the ordinance to require maintenance of fences. Council agreed they would add this amendment at a later date. The ordinance will allow existing fences to be grandfathered in. It passed 5 – 0.

The minimum square footage ordinance 2020-02 was presented for the second reading. Clyde motioned to pass it; Ohmer seconded. The ordinance passed 5 – 0 with no changes.

The employee handbook update ordinance 2020-03 was presented for a second reading. It had been amended to separate all employees and police employees. Updates were recommended by New Focus HR and passed 5 – 0 with Mr. Johnson making the motion and Clyde seconding it.

The second part amended police department procedures and had been split from the last reading. It was now presented for the first reading. Ordinance 2020-04 included a mileage rate update and new equipment listings. Ed moved to suspend the rules and make the first and second reading at once. Clyde seconded and the motion passed 5 – 0. Ohmer then motioned to approve ordinance 2020-04. It passed 5 – 0.

Council then moved on to new business, park requests. The first request was for Hope ride from Andy Klipsch representing the ministerial association. The Hope ride will be virtual this year, but many people will still complete the ride on the September 19th. The theme will be Hope Rising and the ministerial association has been asked to participate. Clean up day will also be held on this day. The clean up portion will be held from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm. Area church will take different sections of town to assist the home bound and those who need assistance with trash removal. A band will play at noon. They had already been scheduled to play for the Hope Ride. The ministerial association will also host a prayer of blessing over the community and collect food pantry offerings. The gathering will be held between Willow Leaves and Swiss Maid, not in the square. The request was approved as it will not be held in the square and the permission has been granted form the property owners.

Donja Taylor from the Chamber of Commerce then presented a request to hold the Arts and Antiques festival on August 30th. It is scheduled from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. The price has been reduced and the booth size has been reduced since participants will not be able to set up inside the square. Masks will be encouraged and a hand sanitizing station will be present. She asked for cones on the North and West sides of the square blocking off the parking spaces next to the interior sidewalks for vendor spaces and room for pedestrians, leaving the other two rows of parking on each side open. The empty lot by town hall was bought up as an alternate location. There was discussion on not wanting to block off the west side of the square so as not to reduce parking for El Jefe. Donja stated they wanted the West and North sides to improve visibility and drop in traffic. Ed motioned to approve the event for the North and East sides of the square. Motion passed 5 – 0.

Susan Thayer then presented a request from the Student’s Fund of Hope on October 2nd contingent upon the governor issuing stage five. They were asking to close the streets on the south side of the square to move the movie equipment in. Ed moved to close the street for them; Clyde seconded the motion. Nellie gave the only opposing vote, with all other council members in favor.

Jerry Bragg then reviewed the CGS trash pickup contract. It will expire this year in December. They are offering a two-year extension. The price will go up .16 the first year. Total cost during the second year will be $8.33. Mr. Compton commented he had a realtor express to him homes in Hope are now selling quicker and our property values are going up since the trash contract has been in effect. Councilwoman Meek thought the town should bid it out. Councilman Miller motioned we accept the extension for two years as it is to the benefit of the community; it passed 5 – 0.

Clyde Compton presented an edit request from Pastor Ed on behalf of Main Street for Clean Up Day. The previously requested money for Shredit has been rescinded. First Financial bank has agreed to host document collection for shredding in their parking lot on the 19th.  The bins are available inside the bank now by appointment only because of virus restrictions.  Call the First Financial to make an appointment. CGS has been approved as the dumpster provider due to overall lower cost and approved by edit 3 - 0. Dumpsters will be increased to three this year due to anticipated volume increase since everyone is at home working and cleaning during the quarantine.

Diane Burton presented the 2021 budget. The first public meeting regarding the budget will be September 15th at 5:30. The budget adoption bill be at the October 20th meeting at 5:30. She then reviewed the various budget forms.

Mrs. Burton then requested a transfer of funds resolution 2020-05. Funds needed to be moved due to paving expenses coming from a specified account. The expenses were $1,500.00. Nellie made the motion and Ohmer seconded it. Motion passed 5 – 0.

David Clouse gave an update on Norman park. The cost for the swing replacement seats was around $677.00. The slide is on order. Ohmer motioned to approve the cost for the swing sets, Clyde seconded it. Motion passed 5 – 0. Clyde Compton thanked John Walstad and his church group for painting the shelter house at Norman park.

Jerry Bragg suggested new picnic tables for the square since all the other fixtures would be new.

Matt Tallent asked for an extension to take his remaining six days of vacation time. The extension passed 5 – 0.

Ohmer reminded us he is not trying to be a spoilsport by wanting to cancel events; he is trying to protect the community with his firm park stance.

The meeting was adjourned.