Let me again thank those folks who care for the health and safety of their fellow citizens by wearing masks. Research is very clear that wearing masks is a very basic, and effective way of containing the spread of COVID-19 virus.
While individuals have personal freedom, there is a responsibility to not jeopardize the health and safety of others within the community. Individuals can’t make it too far without the support of a healthy community. Concern for others is a fundamental religious and community value.
In some instances, people go into businesses without masks. Some citizens ask for the police to be called to establishments to enforce the Governor’s mask order. The order prohibits our police from citing individuals on sidewalks or in businesses.
The first line of enforcement falls on the business owner. It is their responsibility to request people to wear masks. If a customer refuses to do so, that person can be asked to leave the business. If the person refuses, the police can be called, and that person can be charged with trespassing.
Rather than requesting police involvement, I suggest concerned citizens talk with the business owner that they believe is routinely allowing customers not to wear masks. As a last resort, a business owner could be cited for failing to enforce the Governor’s mask order if there is a total disregard for doing so.
I hope Highlands will continue to have a high level of voluntary compliance. Our police have increased foot patrols in the business district. Officers wear masks in an effort to model best behavior in these crowded zones.
On public sidewalks outside the business area, there is no expectation that people wear masks, provided social distancing can be maintained. The Governor’s order states that if a person is exercising outdoors and maintaining social distance, masks are not required.
Tonight, is the July meeting of the town board byway of ZOOM. The town website has the information for public access. I encourage anyone wishing to make a public comment to call Town Hall at 828.526.2118 and let our staff know. Requests can also be emailed to me at: email@example.com.
The first agenda items will be a request by OEI to annex the Farm on Arnold Road. This request was reviewed and recommended by the Planning Board. The next step will be a public hearing at the August meeting for the annexation and for the rezoning of the Farm property to B-3. The Farm is currently outside the town and is not zoned.
There will be a discussion of current town bear policies. I will request the board to form an educational partnership with the B.E.A.R Task Force. Also, I want the board to consider an ordinance prohibiting the willful feeding of bears.
A request to do engineering plans for several upcoming water and sewer projects is on the agenda. We believe another federal stimulus package may be coming that includes public works projects. Shovel-ready plans like the ones proposed could be funded through federal stimulus project grants.
See you tonight.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor