City Council: Trick-or-treating still a go in Okemah
By Ken Childers
Trick-or-treating will be allowed this year in Okemah, despite updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that advise against it.
On Sept. 14, the city council voted to designate Saturday, Oct. 31 as the official trick-or-treat night, but a week later, the CDC updated it coronavirus guidelines to include a warning against trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, attending costume parties, going to haunted houses and taking hayrides or tractor rides. Such activities were labeled as “high-risk” for COVID-19 transmission.
In light of the CDC warning, the agenda of the Sept. 28 regular council meeting included discussion and possible action on the new guidelines on trick-or-treating.
“I asked for this to be put on the agenda so everyone will be aware of the latest and greatest guidelines from the CDC,” said Mayor Mike Fuller. “My opinion on this is, the kids here have had a pretty rough year so far. They’re just now getting to go back to school and see their friends. I’d like to see them have at least one night to be a kid.”
Fuller then asked his fellow council members if any of them felt like the previous decision on trick-or-treating should be rescinded. While all councilors said “no” to making any changes, Ron Gott, who represents the city’s ward four, said it is still important to follow social distancing guidelines while participating in Halloween-related activities.
The CDC recommends that people maintain a distance of at least six feet between them and cautions against the wearing of costume masks. According to the CDC, a costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. In addition, a costume mask should not be worn over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Halloween-themed cloth masks are recommended as an alternative.
Other council actions
Monday’s council meeting also included an executive session to discuss the hiring of a city manager as well as a pending claim submitted by Dana Bleeker. When the council returned to open session, Fuller announced that nothing outside of the two mentioned items were discussed in executive session. The council then voted unanimously to settle Beeker’s claim for $152.50, one half of the claim amount.
In other action, the council awarded a bid in the amount of $69,250 to Ground Zero Roofing of Newcastle to repair the roof of the public works shop building. The company will install a polyurethane foam seamless roof on the building.
A meeting of the Okemah Economic Development Authority took place immediately after the city council meeting, which also included an executive session, this time to discuss the appraisal of real property. Upon return to open session, the authority, which is comprised of city council members, voted to approve a contract for the sale of property located in the Industrial Park. Under the contract, the former solid waste transfer station building will be sold to Shane Anderson for $150,000.
In a special meeting of the Okemah Utilities Authority, council members approved a payment of $14,782 to Wall Engineering for demolition of the Hot and Cold water towers and accepted the project as complete. In other actions, the authority approved the payment of $12,883.50 to Whit Industries for installation of a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system at the water plant.
The authority also voted to amend Okemah Lake rules to prohibit fishing tournaments on holiday weekends that occur in the summer months. In addition, the authority took action on an encroachment at the lake and agreed to give Max McGee, who has allegedly squatted on lakeside property for 20 years, until Oct. 5 to move a greenhouse.
Okemah City Council and related meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the chambers of City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.