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Shawnee City Commission: Mayor asks residents to turn lights on 8 p.m. Friday in solidarity

Vicky O. Misa

In a show of solidarity, Mayor Richard Finley is asking area residents to come together as a community at 8 p.m. Friday evening; at that time they are encouraged to turn on porch lights, yard lights, etc., to send the message that there's light in these dark times.

“It is the light of life, the light of hope for better days to come; God bless you and keep us in this light,” he said.

On Monday Shawnee City Commissioners, to honor shelter-at-home guidelines, held their regular commission meeting via video conference. Though there wasn't much on the agenda, board members took the opportunity to converse with residents and share encouragement as the COVID-19 crisis continues to force people to stay home.

With many local businesses and workers hit hard by the country's shut-down measures, Finley encouraged small business owners and workers to look into available programs and aid packages.

Economic Development Director Tim Burg, with Shawnee Forward, has information about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He can be reached at tburg@shawneeforward.com. And aid information also is available on the Shawnee Forward website, Finley said.

“Local businesses are the backbone of our community and without our help they will not reopen their doors again once it's safe again to leave home, so please help us in that regard,” he said.

Help is available for those in need.

“We are absolutely ready to support families in need of assistance; Oklahoma 211 is there,” Finley said. “They can help you find a doctor if you feel ill, food banks are preparing meals for our kids and senior citizens, and those in need.”

He said 211 can connect residents with delivery services to help them stay safe at home.

“Call 211 or go online at 211Oklahoma.org for information on resources for family and loved ones,” he said. “Our community is stronger when we work together toward a safe and healthy city.”

Work together from a distance to show support, Finley said.

Commissioners voiced appreciation for how residents have been working together to make social distancing efforts productive.

Ward 6 City Commissioner Ben Salter said he believes that Pottawatomie County having so few cases is a testament to the efforts of its residents, while more than 500 cases surround the area in bordering counties.

While he congratulated many, he also pointed out there have been instances when more effort should be taken.

He said he doesn't believe it takes a whole family to go out and shop during this time.

Commissioners also agreed and noted the importance of shopping local — both now (when possible) and after the crisis is over.

“Sales tax will be down because of this,” Ward 3 City Commissioner James Harrod said. “We need to shop Shawnee.”

Board actions

The board acknowledged and ratified Mayor Richard Finley's amended state-of-emergency proclamation and second amended proclamation — which was a shelter-in-place guideline put into place early last week.

The first amendment, Shawnee City Manager Chance Allison explained, was issued March 20, when guidelines for senior-shopping hours and drive-thru-only service from restaurants were added.

On March 30, the second amendment added the shelter-in-place edict, as well as a notice that while city parks would remain open, playground equipment would be off-limits. Suspending garage sales and previous guidelines were extended to continue until April 30.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to continue the Nine-One-One Emergency Number Ordinance that was up for renewal.

Also, commissioners OK'd a budget amendment for the Gifts and Contributions Fund 706 — accounting for various donations that have been made since July 1, 2019, like donations through Cops N Kids, the Santa Fe Depot, Horses in the City, and others.

Shawnee Finance Director Ashley Neel said the item was just to update everything since the new fiscal year began. A similar budget amendment also was approved for Shawnee Municipal Authority Fund 501 — a reflection of changes that have occurred since July 1, 2019.

On the Airport Authority agenda, a bid was awarded to the highest offer, which was from current tenant Muhammad Arif, for $229,000, so he could purchase 2.48 acres at 2110 W. Independence.