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Town Council discusses town election, social distancing challenges

By Staff | Jun 12, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Tuesday night, the Corporation of Shepherdstown Town Council met for their regular monthly meeting on Zoom.

At the beginning of the meeting, Town Recorder Lori Robertson relieved community members’ concerns regarding the town’s July 21 election, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve had a lot of questions regarding the election, which is great. It’s always good to know that our residents are interested in our local elections,” Robertson said, mentioning the election’s late timing is consistent with previous years’ elections. “We are not behind with printing election information. Amy Boyd just received the sample ballots on June 4, that will be on our website by the end of the business day on June 10.”

So far, 801 applications have been mailed to town residents who have requested them, Robertson said. Residents within the town limits can still register to vote by contacting Town Clerk Amy Boyd.

According to Robertson, the in-person voting for the town election will include as many health precautions as possible.

“Election workers will have masks provided to them, and we will practice social distancing,” Robertson said, mentioning state law prevents the town from requiring voters to practice these safety measures.

An upcoming event resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic-related cancelation of the town’s annual Fourth of July Parade and Picnic will feature the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. On July 4, 10-12 department employees will parade down from Church Street to Princess Street, in a silent tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives for American independence.

“The idea behind it is that we have a tradition that takes place on the Fourth of July, where we walk down German Street carrying our banner. We know that the parade is not going to take place, but we thought we could still honor Independence Day by walking down German Street with the American flag and our apparatus,” said EMS Chief Marshall DeMeritt, referring to one of the department’s fire trucks. “This seems to be one of those small things that people really depend upon seeing every year.”

According to DeMeritt, all procession members will wear masks and practice social distancing with passersby. The department will do its best to make sure this event has no effect on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hopes the event will help local residents celebrate their nation’s birthday, McDermitt said.

“The Shepherdstown Fire Department will be presenting the colors in front of Town Hall on the Fourth of July. There will be no cookouts afterwards, it will just be a presentation of the flag,” DeMeritt said.

Permission to block off German Street for the event was passed by the Town Council, with Councilman David Springer in opposition, due to pandemic-related concerns.

Auxer announced that the town had won a $500,000 Program Award for the Shepherdstown Path through the West Virginia Department of Transportation Alternative Transportation Grant.

“We want to talk about the $500,000 award that we got for Shepherdstown’s path!” Auxer said.

“Matt Mullenax and I sat down back in the fall of 2019, and we filled another transportation grant out for the path,” Robertson said, mentioning that construction cost increases had prevented the path from being completed. “We were just shy of it–this will be made. It’s almost complete, but they’re moving the Department of Highways’ time, which means it will be a couple of months. I just want to say a special ‘thank you’ to Matt Mullenax and Region 9 for making this possible!”

The Town Council announced that local restaurants have begun applying to the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission for permission to expand their seating onto the sidewalk in front of their business locations, which may require the closure of nearby parking spots, to make the move practical for diners and passersby. The Recycling Task Force’s Sustainable Shepherdstown Act, which businesses were to begin following this July, currently has a delayed start date of Sept. 1, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.