Though the COVID-19 crisis has brought sudden, drastic changes to our way of life, the city’s top officials will remain the same. Sallisaw Mayor Ernie Martens and Police Chief Terry Franklin were sworn in Monday at the beginning of the City Commissioners’ monthly meeting.
In February, residents re-elected Franklin while Martens retained his position unopposed.
Also at the meeting, Sallisaw City Manager Keith Skelton announced that the city’s plan to increase electric service rates will be put on hold until the coronavirus pandemic eases. “We think it would be best to rescind the order and bring it back at a later time,” Skelton said.
The commissioners also had a lengthy discussion about the city’s response to the COVID-19 situation. Skelton told the panel that city operations continue, though at reduced staff levels. He also noted that the landfill and City Hall are fully staffed and workers are staying “safe and busy.”
Skelton also said city staff is gathering supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by first responders.
Franklin, the police chief, said most Sallisaw residents have been following city curfew orders but he noted that instances of domestic violence are on the rise because of the stay-in-place recommendations. “I feel like we’re pretty blessed right now” with a relatively low number of positive cases in the county, Franklin said.
The City of Sallisaw instituted a citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said the fire department has a decent supply of N95 protective masks for firefighters. “We always carry extra (PPE) if we come across someone with COVID-19 symptoms,” he said.
Martens said there have not been any discussions about reopening the city when the pandemic threat slows down, but that he and his team would meet weekly to “make some vital decisions” for our community.
Martens also praised DiamondNet for teaming up with the city to provide Internet “hot spots” to allow students without Wi-Fi access to work on their school assignments.
Location 1 for the Wi-Fi service is the parking lot between Sallisaw Lumber and the library. The network is DiamondNet and the password is BlackDiamond. Location 2 is Brushy Lake. The network is BrushyLake and the password is BrushyLake. “These hot spots are very much appreciated,” Martens said.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 2,069 positive COVID-19 cases in the state. Eleven of those cases are in Sequoyah County and two county residents have died of the virus.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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