City Hall

The De Queen City Council, at their July 7 regular meeting, adopted a resolution encouraging the use of face masks by residents and visitors when in public. The resolution, which was drawn up by De Queen resident Victor Rojas, doesn’t require masks in public but rather encourages their use by residents and visitors alike. The resolution cites the president’s proclamation that the covid-19 outbreak is a national emergency, that he approved a major disaster declaration for Arkansas, and that the state department of health had reported 19,818 confirmed cases and 264 deaths thus far. 

The resolution also states that that covid-19 is spread “easily” from person to person, that a “substantial” amount of individuals are asymptomatic yet still may spread it, and that it is spreading “more efficiently than influenza.”

“Whereas, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement Policy Board calls on all private and public entities in the state to require employees, customers and visitors to wear face coverings in shared spaces while inside, now, therefore, in order to maintain public health and stop further spread of the covid-19 virus, the city council of De Queen, Arkansas, hereby urges all residents and visitors to wear protective face masks when in public settings, such as grocery store, pharmacies, medical offices and other high traffic areas,” the resolution states. 

Rojas told the council that it was an important step they could take without having to introduce a mandate. 

“I hope the city doesn’t have to,” Rojas said. “If things worsen you may have to require it but at this point I think we can count on our visitors and citizens.” 

Alderman Dr. Jason Lofton, who also serves as the Sevier County Health Officer, agreed with Rojas that it wasn’t the right time to require the wearing of masks. 

“The numbers are going down,” Lofton said. “If we make it through the next two weeks without a spike, we won’t need a mandate.” 

The council voted 6-0 to pass the resolution. 

In other council action, Mike Sims, head if the city’s sewer department, told the council that due to heavy rains in the area, the city lost one of its two screw pumps. Sims said that while the machine had been on its’ “last leg” and that he had planned to include the purchase of a new one on the 2021 budget, it would take six months for a new pump to be operational, thus the reason for asking the council for the money now. He said that the city has one pump working as well as an emergency pump, but that they needed to begin the process of getting a second screw pump. 

“We’re in dire need now,” he said. 

He said the pump has a 20-25 year life expectancy and that the cost would be in the $200,000 range. 

Mayor Jeff Brown said that city had purchased the one working pump just two or three years ago at a cost of $195,000. 

The council approved the purchase by a 6-0 vote. 

In its final action, the city council approved a resolution adopting a hazard mitigation plan from Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. Mayor Brown said that if the council failed to adopt the plan, they would be unable to collect federal disaster funding in the future. 

The council voted 6-0 to pass the resolution. 

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