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City of Florence declares ‘State of Emergency’

March 24, 2020 — On March 23, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12, which took effect statewide immediately and remains in effect until further notice. Executive Order 20-12 enacts a host of new, tougher restrictions (See page A2) on public spaces and businesses in an effort to increase social distancing requirements and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The Florence City Council has responded to the Florence COVID-19 crisis in a similar manner, using Executive Order 20-12 as a template for a set of updated COVID-19 guidelines and an emergency declaration specific to Florence — both of which were adopted at the March 23 meeting of the City Council. Florence News

Florence Mayor Joe Henry greeted community members watching remotely online or over Charter Cable Channel 191, making a brief introductory statement and explaining the reasoning behind the city’s plan in preparing for the unknown impact the COVID-19 virus will have on the area.
“I know this is an incredibly hard time. Our day-to-day lives have taken a dramatic shift and our health and well-being are at stake due to coronavirus/COVID-19,” Henry said. “My heart is breaking as I watch the widespread impacts this is having on all aspects of our daily family, social and business lives. We are with you in this, we care for you, we are doing our best as city and community leaders to work through this and lead in this crisis. Florence Medical News
“I want to assure you that as a city we have a plan that is dynamic and responsive. I appreciate your patience and support of the city as it works through this crisis.” Florence Emergency
The city plan was delivered in the form of two resolutions, beginning with Resolution No. 6, Series 2020: “A Resolution Declaring a Temporary State of Emergency within the Boundaries of the City and Delegating Authority to the City Manager,” and Resolution No. 5, Series 2020: “Temporary COVID-19 Public Meeting Procedures,” which initiates major modifications to the public participation aspect of council and committee meetings.
Both resolutions are designed to be only temporary in duration.
City Recorder and Economic Development Coordinator Kellie Weese was direct in her recommendation that the councilors approve Resolution No. 5, which puts in place temporary changes to the required public participation aspect of city functions and meetings.
Weese detailed the current status of county and statewide efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, explaining that the move to live streaming of public meetings and committee deliberations is an integral part of the city response to the virus. She also expressed the importance of the limitation of live comments and attendance by the public, which also includes limiting of staff reports during meetings and finding alternate means of allowing citizens to speak directly to the council.
City Manager Erin Reynolds then presented councilors with background on the actions taken by the governor, as well as state and county agencies in response to the COVID-outbreak and asked for the adoption of the following Emergency Declaration:

The City Council of the City of Florence Resolves as Follows:

  1. City-Wide State of Emergency: A city-wide state of emergency hereby exists within the City of Florence, which includes all areas within the city boundaries.
  2. City Authority: During this state of emergency, the city may take any legal and necessary steps to respond and recover from the emergency, including but not limited to: requesting assistance, funds and reimbursement from the State of Oregon and federal agencies; adopting temporary rules and policies regarding city facilities, funds, fees, resources and staff; entering into contracts for services and aid agreements with other governmental or private entities; and cancelling non-essential city meetings and events.
This authorized the emergency procurement of goods, services and public improvements. In addition, the city will not send shut-off notices or shut off water for non-payment of unpaid utility bills while this emergency is in place, and may suspend enforcement of other billing department rules, regulations and code provisions, in the city manager’s discretion under the provisions of this declaration.
The city manager is also authorized to utilize the digital signature of the mayor, or city council presiding officer, as a method of original signature on actions of the city council, should such actions be approved. Florence Political News
  1. Staff Designation: The city manager is directed to identify two additional staff members who are designated and authorized to serve as the “acting in capacity” city manager (city manager AIC) in the city manager’s absence during this state of emergency. The city manager or designee(s) shall regularly document and report to the Council regarding any actions or orders taken pursuant to this Declaration.
Florence City Councilors voted unanimously to approve the emergency declaration.
Next, Public Information Officer Megan Messmer addressed the council updating them on the work being done by the West Lane Emergency Operations Group (WLEOG), which is the lead agency tasked with assisting the City of Florence in preparing for all types of emergencies. Florence Distribution Service

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