The city of Indianola is trying to bench some roundballers.
After discussing the city’s current emergency proclamation during Monday night’s Indianola Board of Aldermen meeting, the lawmakers decided that they would mimic the latest orders handed down from Governor Tate Reeves regarding the required wearing of face coverings and social distancing recommendations.
And in like manner with Sunflower County officials, the city leaders imposed a $1,000 fine for violating the order plus, an additional $250 penalty for persons who violate the governor's social distancing guidelines, which limits gatherings to a maximum of 10 indoors and a maximum of 20 outdoors.
The aldermen discussed an unnamed basketball court being frequented by groups of area youth where the landowner has already taken steps to keep people out, but the persistent players keep circumventing the fail-safes to congregate and play ball.
Police Chief Edrick Hall said someone has even cut holes in the fence and put sheets across the barbed wire on top to get into the fenced off area.
Hall said he and his officers have made several call-outs to that court and have talked to the organization’s head but have not had any success in keeping the players out. “They (the owner) do call us when the people are out and so far they have opted not to file trespassing charges,” Hall said.
He said at last talk, the owners of the property were planning to purchase locking mechanisms so that the basketball goals could not be used.
Alderman Sam Brock suggested finding a way to reach out to the parents to remind them of the risk associated with the young people congregating together and ask for their assistance in keeping the children from engaging in those types of gatherings.
The lawmakers also talked about disseminating fliers and copies of the proclamations across town to let people know about the $250 fine and the restrictions.
Currently, all of the prior limitations imposed by the board that are not spelled out in Reeves’ order are still in place, including the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew.
As part of the conversation, Mayor Steve Rosenthal announced that according to the Sunflower County Emergency Management director’s report, as of Monday night, Sunflower County had 797 positive cases of COVID-19, which is a jump of over 40 cases from earlier in that day.
South Sunflower County Hospital had reported 76 patients, but no report from North Sunflower County Medical Center, nonetheless, 120 admissions were reported between the two facilities. The report also established that there were 14 COVID-19 related deaths.
In other business,
Under the counsel of City Attorney Kim Merchant, the city leaders voted to adopt a cell phone use policy for city employees. The measure passed 4-1 with Alderman Ruben Woods casting the no vote. Merchant explained that what she was presenting was a basic policy that governs the use of cell phones by employees while they are at work and especially under unsafe conditions.
The policy is divided into several sections and addresses the use of city-provided phones, the use of personal phones and the use of either while driving and in unsafe work conditions.
There is also reportedly a provision that says city-owned cell phones must be used for city business and not for personal use.
Woods asked, “Why are we always trying to fix stuff if it's not broken? Do we have a cell phone (problem), do we have somebody abusing the phones?” He then asked why so much time was being spent fixing something that was not broken; however, Rosenthal declared that the situation is broken.
Rosenthal described certain instances where he has reportedly walked up on city workers who were on their phones, leaning against their trucks, not working and on personal phone calls. Brock stated that he has witnessed situations where workers were in the city’s trucks with their feet up while on personal phone calls.
Brock assured Woods that they were not trying to take anything from the workers, but simply ensure the safety of those who have to work around them because it is a liability. Brock added that they were simply trying to put something in place, so that people will know what will happen if they violate policy.
Woods then asserted that the described issues didn't seem to be cell phone-related issues, but discipline problems. Brock said it could be both.