The Rainsville City Council discussed and announced facility closures in response to the positive cases of COVID-19 in Alabama.
Mayor Roger Lingerfelt spoke about the recent events surrounding the virus and its impact on the community.
“We are in uncharted waters right now, and we are going to have to make a decision of which direction we need to go,” he said.
Following his statement, Lingerfelt announced the following closure recommendations beginning March 17 through April 6: the Rainsville Public Library, Parks and Recreation, Tom Bevill Enrichment Center and the Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center would be closed.
He said other changes include the use of the drive-thru for the Rainsville City Hall for all transactions.
“If you have something that you need assistance on, you can call 256-638-6334 and someone will come out and provide assistance for you,” said Lingerfelt.
He also announced the closure of the court system until April 16 in efforts to avoid the possible spreading of the virus.
“The DeKalb County Mayors Association met today and all the mayors seem to be on board with doing the same thing,” Lingerfelt said.
During Monday's work session, Lingerfelt asked Rainsville Fire Chief Willimac Wright for a brief update regarding the measures taken with the COVID-19.
Wright said the recommendations provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health state that if you have been exposed and you’re having symptoms, they are asking that you don't go to the Emergency Room or family physician.
“Call them to give them your symptoms and the doctor will give you their protocol on what you need to do from there,” he said.
Wright said they want to avoid panic at the hospital and the depletion of resources. Regarding test results for individuals who are getting tested, he said they are looking at 24 to 72 hours.
“Information regarding positive test results right now we don’t have any, all of that will be coming through the ADPH from what we were told today,” said Wright.
He also advises that if you call 911 and you are having symptoms to please notify them when you call.
“We want to protect our personnel as much as possible,” Wright said. He asks that individuals who are experiencing symptoms wear a mask, and if you don't have one, the first responder coming to assist, will have some.
Lingerfelt said it's going to be a stressful time for the next few weeks and asks residents to have patience.
He said with the schools closing down for more than two and a half weeks, beginning Monday, March 23, there will be a community food service where students [18 and under] can pick up two meals each day, a breakfast and a lunch from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Each community will have its own distribution center. The one for the Rainsville will be at the Rainsville City Hall.
“To help the community, the city of Rainsville had decided to help with the program through the board of education. The city hall drive-through will be one of the pickup points where they can drive up,” said Lingerfelt.
The program is set to be operative for the week of Spring Break as well as for the following week.
Lingerfelt said they would discuss and make a decision regarding the announced closures at the next council meeting in April.
“We are going to work through it and come out on the other side. We are a strong community who always pulls together,” he said.
The council also heard updates from the following departments:
Councilman Brandon Freeman announced the youth sports program for the summer had not been canceled. “We are going to come back on April 6 and reevaluate. It’s just going to be pushed back to the timeline with the school,” he said.
Eric Samples, chairman of the Public Building Authority, said they have notified their customers and have canceled two events so far. “We are going to work with them as best we can,” he said.
The council also:
• approved Revenue Officer Training in Tuscaloosa from April 1 through 3, pending possible reschedule.
• approved to hire Tiffany Edwards at the Rainsville Police Department with a start date of April 2, 2020 on a four-year contract.
• approved the repairs of two Dodge Chargers from the Rainsville Police Department at Basswood Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at $6400.
• approved to amend the budget as presented to them by the city accountant Betty Holcomb.
• approved the following cost of living pay raises that were discussed during the budget workshop held on March 9:
– approved the Assistant Operator Waste Water Treatment Play pay raise total of $5,000 per year to be broken down through each pay period.
– approved the county clerk pay raise of $3,000 more per year.
– approved the city clerk pay raise of $3500 more per year.
– approved the Rainsville Police Chief pay raise of $3,000 more per year.
– approved the Rainsville Fire Chief pay raise of $3,000 more per year.
The next council meeting is scheduled for April 6, 2020, with a workshop at 4:15 p.m. and a regular session at 5 p.m.
– Editor’s note: The Mountain Valley News contributed the audio for this article.