Taylor County declaration of disaster, social distancing at Abilene City Council meeting

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Abilene, Texas (KTAB) – Taylor County has now officially made a declaration of local state of disaster.

“We’ve been working on this, and we’re aware of it, and watching what the other counties are doing”, said Judge Downing Bolls. “I’ll just tell you that we’re watching this move across the state, and it’s here now.”

The wording of the declaration is broad, giving Taylor County the ability to take what they’ve called “extraordinary measures” to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Judge Bolls said, “In the days to come we will be refining and coming up, as soon as we can, with further explanation, what’s specifically going to be entailed in this as we go on into this.”

The declaration also gives small businesses the ability to apply for loans to get them through the tough times ahead.

Commissioner Chuck Statler said he’d heard from many businesses looking to do just that, and said, “For those individuals that have submitted that request, since our disaster declaration signed by the county judge is now in place, those businesses can go back and resubmit those bid applications.”

Later Thursday afternoon, the Abilene City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting. While they took care of normal business, Coronavirus played a large role in the meeting.

The meeting saw council and staff spread apart further than usual. More unusual still, was the lack of citizens for the meeting. While the council chambers were off limits, phone lines were ready to allow citizens to still take part in the meeting.

The majority of the meeting was standard housekeeping. The final item, the only one on the regular agenda, did relate to COVID-19. The resolution was specially passed in only one reading instead of the normal two. It used State law to give the City the ability to enact public orders for safety, and to create penalties for not following those orders.

“I want to allow the council to have that option in the future if it becomes necessary, not specifically for this current disaster, which may be needed, but even in the event of future local disasters”, explained City Attorney Stanley Smith.

The resolution passed, giving the City of Abilene extra powers in emergencies like this, and any others that may arise in the future. They will only be in effect during times when a declaration of disaster has been made.

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