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Town council discusses cancellation of BooFest, Christmas in Shepherdstown

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Sep 11, 2020

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Shepherdstown town council held its monthly meeting in the War Memorial Building on Tuesday evening.

At the unanimous agreement of the town council, the town moved to support the Shepherdstown Visitors Center’s cancellation of BooFest and not block off German Street for trick-or-treaters.

“I will make a motion that the town does not endorse any Halloween events, and discourages any Halloween-related activities, including town-wide trick-or-treating and BooFest, based on COVID-19 safety concerns,” said town councilman Chris Stroech.

Shepherd University has also canceled its annual Shep-or-Treat event, due to trick-or-treating’s incompatibility with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

Similarly, the town council also decided to act with the town’s health and safety in mind, regarding Christmas in Shepherdstown. A motion not to close German Street for the annual Christmas Parade was unanimously approved. A second motion not to close German Street for the Christmas in Shepherdstown opening night was also unanimously approved. However, the town will stream a brief version of its traditional tree-lighting ceremony online, featuring Judy Shepherd reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the tree being lit.

“I think lighting the tree is a beacon of hope in this time,” Auxer said, mentioning that the tree lighting ceremony alone typically draws 500 people to crowd to McMurran Hall.

The town council said it would encourage the Shepherdstown Visitors Center’s Christmas in Shepherdstown Committee to find ways to offer socially distanced activities this year.

The town council approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation to increase the salaries of Shepherdstown’s current police officers by $1,000 and to increase the nightshift differential by $1.50 per hour, retroactively effective on Sept. 1. Due to a loss in town income because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the town council agreed to cover the cost this year, by using funds previously designated for replacement of the town’s vehicles. According to Auxer, the Corporation of Shepherdstown will look at long-term solutions to covering the salary increase in the future.

The town council approved the return of Mary Bell to the Board of Appeals, following the resignation of one of its members.

“I served on the board for three years, and then moved up the hill and out of town. Now I’m back!” Bell said, mentioning her experience as an attorney is an asset in her service on the board. “I like public service, and want to participate in it.”

Councilman Marty Amerikaner announced that, due an increase in applications, the Age-Friendly Shepherdstown Board did not receive a community challenge grant from AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. The town was given the grant for the first time last year. The board hopes to find another way to fund its project, to place a town map kiosk near the Market House.