Maintaining a safe distance: Ardmore mayor proclaims civil emergency

Drew Butler
Signs posted on the front door of City Hall alert citizens to public closures and ask residents to pay their water bill via the payment drop or online.

The Monday evening Ardmore City Commission meeting began with a special proclamation from Mayor Moore declaring the existence of a civil emergency due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The proclamation consisted of two orders and will last until at least April 15 when the emergency will be reassessed.

The first order banned gatherings of 50 or more people in a city-owned or operated facility or property. The second order revokes all special event permits with a projected attendance of 50 or more attendees and prohibits the issuing of any new permits for similar events.

City Manager J.D. Spohn said the city has notified state government about the state of emergency. This will open up state and federal disaster relief funds if necessary.

“This proclamation follows the guidelines recommended by the CDC, the president and the governor,” Spohn said. “We feel like this is the best way to protect our citizens and prevent this virus from being spread.”

Spohn said the city will reassess conditions daily and continue to take measures recommended by health professionals and state government. Therefore there are no plans at this time to enact stricter rules.

In addition to the rules put in place by the proclamation, Spohn said the city will also be enacting other measures to keep city employees and citizens safe. These measures include the postponement of all programs and activities sponsored by Ardmore Parks and Recreation as well as the closure of the Ardmore Public Library until further notice.

The City of Ardmore will also be temporarily suspending all water disconnects due to nonpayment of utility bills. However the balance will continue to accrue, and arrangements for missed payments must be made once the policy is lifted. The city is encouraging residents to pay their bills online or utilize the payment drop located at the northwest corner of City Hall to reduce traffic inside the building.

Similar measures have also been put in place by other area utilities.

Saturday, OG&E issued a statement telling customers they would be suspending all disconnects for at least 30 days. Red River Valley REA issued a statement on Monday stating all disconnects will be temporarily suspended, and they will continue to re-evaluate the suspension on a weekly basis.

Other temporary closures in the area include all branches of the Southern Oklahoma Library System as well as all casinos operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

Spohn encouraged everyone to remain calm and to remember to check on elderly family and friends.

“We encourage all our citizens to check on elderly family members and neighbors to make sure they are doing all right,” Spohn said. “Just give them a call, see if they need your help and ask if they need you to go to the store.”