Public safety discussed by Boonville Council ahead of Saturday barbecue event

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

A Saturday barbecue and auction event sponsored by a local business drew concerns from Boonville City Council members during Monday's meeting. 

The city received a request from Black Rifle LLC and Buerky’s Barbecue for the Bids and BBQ event Saturday on Chestnut Street. 

Discussion lasted nearly half of the meeting, but the council ultimately approved the street closure request 4-3

“Everybody is tired of COVID and I totally get that, but I do have concerns,” Ward 2 council member Susan Meadows said. “It sounds like with the large number of people [expected], they aren’t doing anything to encourage some of the guidelines that our county health department have recommended." 

She referenced increasing hospitalizations from neighboring Boone County, noting only 20 of the 91 hospitalizations are from Boone.

"We don’t have a hospital here so those are concerns," Meadows said. "I’m not saying it shouldn’t be held, but I sure would feel a lot better knowing that these sponsors were at least encouraging some measure of precaution.”

The state is seeing a second surge of the virus, Ward 2 council member Albert Turner said. He is concerned as well if there is not a mask requirement or social distancing recommendations.

There are no countywide gathering restrictions, Boonville City Administrator Kate Fjell said. 

“We don’t have any,” Fjell said. “The [health] board lifted the restrictions or limitations on tournaments and sporting events several months ago, and up to now it hasn’t been brought back to the table to do any type of requirements.”

There likely would be enforcement difficulties. Despite this, Meadows would like to see the city take a stronger stand. 

“I don’t know that we need to enforce it or mandate it, but if we could get these sponsors to partner up with us and promote good practices, we’ve got to come to some sort of middle ground,” she said.

The city could require event sponsors to put up signs requesting, but not require participants to wear masks, Ward 1 council member Steve Young said. 

The event lasts all day and people are free to go or stay home, Ward 3 council member Whitney Venable, said.

“I think we’ve all seen the pandemic going on for how many months now and I don’t think us saying that we think that you ought to mask up is going to change anybodys mind on what they do,” he said. “People have made their mind up on kind of where they stand on it and it’s not going to change whether we recommend it or not in my opinion."

But what about all the people who go, then possibly bring it home and spread it, Meadows asked. 

There is a different between recommendation and requirement, Young said. 

“I mean I don’t think we could require it but it could be recommended,” he said.

The council tried that at the city ballfields and signs were just torn down, Ward 4 council member Morris Carter said. 

The event is being held outside, which allows for social distancing, Ryan Stockamp said, with Overstreet Investments Group, which is the management firm of Black Rifle. 

“It’s a rather large square footage for the event,” he said. “We’re going to put up 100 chairs and they’re all going to be distanced."

There also will be tents, canopies and heaters in case it is cold in the morning of evening, and mask usage will not be discouraged.

"Anyone who wants to stay social distance we encourage that and anyone who wants to wear a mask is absolutely free to do so," Stockamp said. 

Meadows wanted to know if there were any considerations for when the evening musical act starts and if there is a plan to limit people from getting to close to each other.

“We’ve hired three off-duty Boonville Police Department officers to be there for security both day and night,” Stockamp said. “We’ve also requested some picnic tables just so it maintains boundary lines between where everyone’s sitting so people can feel comfortable sitting apart.”

Turner inquired if Black Rifle had any objections to having signage that strongly encouraged mask usage. 

“We’re not going to discourage it,” Stockamp said of wearing masks. “If you have a sign you would like us to put out, we’ll put it out. We don’t have anything against it. We just don’t have anything for that.”

It is not necessarily the city's responsibility to put up signs, Meadows said.

“I don’t think it’s a political thing to wear a mask,” she said. “I know I’m stepping outside the line here, but it’s for the safety of everybody.”

Fjell wanted to know if the council would want to discuss community event mask guidelines at a future meeting, like they have about sporting events.

“In fairness to all people at this point in time, when people ask, I tell them we don’t have any [requirements]," she said. "If you wall want to look at changing whatever requirements might be, that would happen through the council action as well."

Quorum rules discussed

The Boonville City Council has eight members, so the council needs five members present at meetings to have a quorum. Votes on ordinances also need five votes to pass, Fjell said. 

“[If] the vote is four to one, then it doesn’t pass,” she said. “I just wanted you to be aware." 

Could a council member participating in the meeting by phone apply to quorum requirements, Turner asked. The council has done that before, Fjell said. The quorum rules are specifically for ordinances, so resolutions, such as street closures don't apply. Resolutions just need a simple majority. 

Kemper project updates

HVAC units are on order and when they arrive Taft Heating and Cooling will install them. Tuck pointing is underway and the elevator inspections needs to be finalized.

"The library is getting ready to put out a request for maybe architects and engineers to help them with the inside," Fjell said. 

Police board meets

The police board met recently to discuss the installation of surveillance cameras.

Police salaries also were reviewed during the meeting, Ward 4 council member Theresa Hurt said. The department recently purchased two new cars.