03-17 corona council

Palestine City Council Members, Mayor Steve Presley and City Manager Leslie Cloer discuss the city's reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an emergency city council meeting Monday, several council members called out the mayor and city manager for a lack of communication over the COVID-19 pandemic and state-declared disaster.

“Since Friday, communication with this organization has been at an all-time low,” District 5 Council member Dana Goolsby said. “We have had no information; nothing since last week. That is unacceptable.”

Mayor Steve Presley has scheduled a virtual town hall meeting on COVID-19, and the city's response to it, for 6 p.m. Tuesday that will stream on the city's Facebook page. Residents are urged to watch online, though they can also attend in person.

The most current information on the spread of COVID-19, and its effect on Anderson County, will be discussed, Presley said. Questions will be taken, either in person or virtually in real-time during the meeting.

“There is no need to panic,” Presley said. “Check on your neighbors, and follow the CDC guidelines. We in Palestine have a history of helping each other out.”

Goolsby said information from a Friday conference call between the governor and city and county leaders should have been shared immediately with the council.

“This meeting is just an information catch-up,” Goolsby said. “This needs to change immediately.”

Presley said the call conveyed only basic information, but apologized to Goolsby and other council members if they felt they were left out.

All council members may participate in daily 4 p.m. conference calls with the Centers for Disease Control going forward, he said.

City Manager Leslie Cloer urged the public to pay utility bills either online or on the phone to help curtail the COVID-19 virus. She said she will consider eliminating the usual credit card transaction fee during the declared disaster.

Council members discussed having residents, at least temporarily, apply for burn permits online. Similarly, Palestine's Tourism Office may close to the public to protect employees. Tourism information would be disseminated at City Hall and online.

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