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Playgrounds are closed per Gov. Kate Brown's order to enforce social distancing measures. 

Itemizer-Observer

POLK COUNTY — The cities of Dallas and Falls City declared emergencies last week in response to COVID-19.

The Falls City City Council met on March 24 to declare an emergency. In a memo to the council, city manager Mac Corthell said the city waited until March 24 to see if the city would benefit from the declaration.  Neighboring cities, the county and the state declared emergencies prior to Falls City’s.

“Falls City waited deliberately to see how this ordeal would unravel and whether we’d have any specific requests for aid to send up the chain,” Corthell wrote in the memo. “At this time, it’s clear that certain equipment and financial needs will only have a chance to be met if we are utilizing the emergency channels, and that additional requests may emerge as the situation continues to unfold.”

Corthell said the city’s firefighters and medics need additional protective gear to respond to emergencies to protect themselves and their patients.

“Additionally, the declaration would allow city administration the flexibility needed to appropriately respond to the situation as circumstances evolve and/or change,” Corthell wrote.

A resolution declaring a state of emergency is in effect until April 28, unless extended by the council, and delegates power and responsibilities to Corthell “to more efficiently expedite city responses and services.”

The resolution authorizes the city manager or his designee to take actions and issue orders in response to COVID-19 in an effort to protect the public health and safety. It gives the city authority to take steps to recover from the emergency, including but not limited to “requesting assistance, funds, and reimbursement from the state of Oregon and federal agencies; adopting temporary rules and policies regarding city facilities, funds, resources, and staff; entering into contracts for services or aid agreements with other governmental or private entities; and cancelling non-essential city meetings and events.”

The Dallas City Council met in a special session to authorize the declaration on March 26. The declaration allows the city to: “establish procedures to prepare for and carry out an activity to prevent, minimize, respond to or recover from an emergency; and designate the official charged with carrying out emergency duties or functions.”

The city’s emergency operations plan designates the city manager as the emergency management director for the city. Under that plan, city manager Brian Latta can appoint and manage the city’s emergency management organization.

The resolution gives the city the authority to “exercise, within the city, all reasonable police powers necessary to reduce vulnerability of the city to loss of life, injury to persons or property and human suffering and financial loss resulting from emergencies, and to provide for recovery and relief assistance for the victims of such occurrences.”

The resolution gives the city the authority to: Impose a curfew; close streets; control, restrict or regulate the use, sale or distribution of goods such as food, water, feed, fuel, clothing, and other commodities or services. It also gives the city the right to take action to prevent wasting of materials, services and facilities related to “production, transportation, power and communications, training and supply of medical care, nutrition, housing, rehabilitation, education, welfare, child care, recreation, consumer protection and other essential civil needs.”

Also suspended under the resolution is the agenda item taking public comment from all meetings of the city council for the duration of the emergency declaration.

“No public comment, at any regular, special or emergency meetings of the city council, will be taken unless specifically allowed by the council or mayor,” the resolution read.

In other business, the city of Dallas:

Suspended all water shut offs and late fees for nonpayment of utility accounts until further notice.

All customers must continue to pay their utility bill and can pay online at dallasor.gov and click on Xpress Bill Pay; pay by phone by calling Xpress Bill Pay at 800-720-6847 or drop a payment in one of the two drop boxes at city hall. If you have further questions please contact the City of Dallas utility office at 503-831-3508 or email utilities@dallasor.gov.

Will extend Dallas Aquatic Center annual pass holders for the length of time the center is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For annual pass holders on monthly payment plans, you will continue to be billed during the closure,” a city press release said. “When the Aquatic Center is re-opened, ALL annual passes that are current on their monthly payments will be extended at no charge for the full duration of the closure to account for the weeks the center was closed due to the pandemic.

For questions or concerns, contact the Dallas Aquatic Center at 503.623.9715 or email    gretchen.noll@dallasor.gov.

Temporarily prohibited door-to-door solicitation to combat the spread of COVID-19. The order is in addition to Gov. Kate Brown’s order to close certain other businesses.

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