Reopening town hall set for June 1

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A reopening committee working toward the safest way to open the doors at town hall has come up with a plan, and there will be limitations and restrictions.

The recommendation to reopen on Wednesday came last Thursday.

“This is the opening date unless something changes between now and then,” said Town Manager Charles Brown.

He said the committee recommends keeping current practices in place.

It further plans to follow guidelines issued by the governor’s office, such as parks can open, but playgrounds must remain closed.

Limited openings with restricted hours and by appointments will be considered after that, he said.

“Timing and scheduling will depend on the availability of personal protective equipment for employees and anyone wanting to visit town hall, as well as hand sanitizer for employees and the public,” said Brown. “When doors are reopened, even on a limited daily basis, disinfecting and sanitizing will be performed, and plexiglass shields have been ordered to protect visitors and employees.”

Reopening of the Town of Mount Olive offices and other facilities will involve big changes and be handled with caution to protect employees and residents.

The town is now entering its 11th week since Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order was issued on March 17.

Brown took a look back at all that has happened since then and said there is nothing he can think of that could have been done any differently.

From the beginning, the main goal was to protect employees and the public, and that will remain the goal as the entire nation begins the effort to return to some type of normalcy, he said.

“We have made it this far and have had no health issues and that is a major accomplishment,” said Brown.

That took using common sense and as the days move forward that is the same thing that is needed.

Cooper, last week, announced moving into Phase Two of a three phase plan to reopening the state.

Still, the second phase does not allow gyms and playgrounds to reopen.

The town manager said their seven-member reopening committee chaired by Special Projects Director Jammie Royall has been working hard to come up with a plan to reopen town hall to the public.

Town hall has been operated with a skeleton crew of two or three people since mid March.

“What we have to do to reopen is figure out the safest way for our employees and the public,” Brown said.

At this point, local officials are doing what most other municipalities are doing in following recommendations from the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

“When we do return to town hall it will not be business as usual. Whatever we do will be what is best for everyone,” Brown said.

The town’s last two board meetings have been held virtually through Zoom and the June 1 regular meeting will probably be held the same way.

Many work functions have moved online.

“I don’t want people to think we have been sitting around doing nothing. Everyone is at work, and we have had dozens of meetings through Zoom,” Brown said. “I don’t know what we would have done without having the virtual capabilities.”

Brown has held weekly meetings with county officials, School of Government representatives, the Regional Planning Commission and with the Mount Olive Airport Board of Directors.

“Our facilities may be closed, and that is the only thing different. All of us are still at work. Our employees are dedicated and have missed nothing,” concluded the town manager.

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