PIEDMONT – During its work session prior to Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled meeting, the Piedmont City Council heard from abatement officer Charles McDonald concerning several issues within the city.
Issues discussed included fees the city can charge on maintaining certain dilapidated properties, what can be done to decrease repeat offenders, and things the city can do to help motivate property owners maintain their properties.
After the discussion, acting city clerk Carl Hinton was tasked with putting McDonald and the council’s suggestions in the form of a resolution, to be presented at the next council meeting on Oct. 19.
Along those same lines, the council passed four resolutions during its regular meeting, three of which were grass cuttings. The locations for the grass cuttings are 303 South Harris Avenue, 140 Old Ladiga Road, and 0 Old Ladiga Road.
The fourth resolution passed involved the listing of surplus property, including 26 fluorescent lights, eight camping pedestals, and around 1,000 brick pavers from the gazebo area, to be sold on Gov Deals (a government surplus website).
The council also approved a budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Also in its regular meeting, the council heard an update from Piedmont Arts Council spokesman Terry Batey. He mainly discussed the city’s upcoming fall festival.
Batey and the arts council is putting together several events sponsored by local vendors to coincide with the downtown trick-or-treat on Oct. 30. A couple of events include a cornhole tournament and a water balloon toss, which Batey asked the council members to take part.
“So far, we have 19 vendors signed up for this. We’re pretty excited about that,” Batey said. “We’ve got a variety of arts and crafts, and some food vendors. We’re going to bring those in and see how that works.
“We’re reaching out now to churches to see what we can find out about getting some sponsors to help us. The biggest thing we have is manpower. We have great ideas, but we don’t have enough hands to do some of the ideas we want to do. We’re going to reach out to some of the churches and ask if they would sponsor a bouncy house, maybe a slide, something of that nature. We’d like their presence downtown as well during this fall festival we’re going to have. We want to get everybody involved. We want this to be a citywide involvement.”
Batey said the events planned for Oct. 30 would be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
In council reports, District 5 representative Greg South voiced his concerns over the recently passed city employee mask mandate.
“I truly do support being vigilant and doing what’s necessary, what’s right with COVID, but one thing I want to approach is some of the city employees have come to me. I’ve even had some business owners talking about the mask mandate,” South said. “I personally don’t mind telling you I don’t agree with mandates. I think everybody has their own responsibility to make their own decisions. If you’re going to mandate something, that means you’ve got to be vigilant to every store you go in, every place you go in, that it’s so important you’ve got a mask on.”
District 4 councilman Caleb Pope interjected: “Nobody has mandated masks in any private business or anything like that. It’s for city buildings. The city employees work for the City of Piedmont. It’s their job to protect the citizens of Piedmont.”
South then continued: “My point is, I know it’s been mandated in the City of Piedmont, but if it’s worthy of putting this on the City of Piedmont, the ones who ordained this or made this should feel like it’s so important that they don’t go anywhere in any building without a mask on. That’s what you’re asking the city employees to do. They take note of what we as a council do. When we mandate something and we don’t follow those same guidelines, it’s hypocrisy in every situation.
“This mandate stuff has caused hostility and division all across this nation. I’m not saying whether or not to wear a mask. I’m just saying give the people the liberty and the responsibility to make the same decision that the council makes when it goes in buildings. That’s all I’m saying. With that being said, I’d like to make a motion to rescind the mandate.”
After Mayor Bill Baker asked for a second on South’s motion, no one seconded.
“We need to be making reasonable decisions,” South said. “This is something that’s going to be with us for a while. Everybody’s got to take care of themselves, take care of their families, and make good decisions. You need to pray about it. You need to be aware of what’s out there and do those things. My only thing was, and still is, it’s not the place of us to mandate things that we don’t even do ourselves.”
District 3 councilman Jubal Feazell later clarified what the city employee mask mandate required.
“The requirement is more of a PPE (personal protective equipment) requirement, when you’re within six feet of someone or like in a truck. I don’t think it’s when you walk in a building,” Feazell said. “We have caveats for offices and things like that. It’s when you’re working alongside someone, beside someone, and only when you’re in the duties of your job as a city employee. It does have an expiration date (March 31, 2022) that we passed, and it can be rescinded or adjusted by a majority vote of the council.”
Minutes from the previous meeting were approved by the council, as were bills for payment in the amount of $353,959.96.