The Enterprise City Council declared a State of Emergency as a result of the coronavirus pandemic at a called meeting Friday afternoon at City Hall.
The State of Emergency authorized Mayor William E. Cooper to implement “all necessary measures which he sees fit to protect the health, safety, security and well-being of the city and residents.”
Those broader powers given to the mayor in a state of emergency could include things like implementing a public curfew; restricting hours — including possible closures —and entry procedures to public buildings or parks operated by the city; or implementing any necessary fiscal measures to protect or secure the city’s well-being.
Mayor Cooper, after the resolution declaring the State of Emergency was passed, said there was nothing he had to implement immediately.
“We’re just being proactive, so to speak,” he said. “There’s nothing that we’re going to enact right now. But as the time comes, if it is necessary, that will happen.”
The City Council can extend, modify or rescind the State of Emergency, but the version passed on Friday will expire no later than April 8.
“We’re taking down the road blocks,” Council President Perry Vickers said. “Like President Trump, he got rid of a lot of red tape and that type of thing. We have enough confidence in him (Cooper) that, if need be, he’ll call on us at a minute’s notice. But, should the situation warrant that he can’t, he’s got the power to take care of it.”
Vickers said the City Council is trying to be proactive as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.
“The thing with all of this, the things that are coming down, we didn’t know this was going on last week. Then, all of a sudden within a week’s time, bam!” Vickers said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next week.
“We might have to change some things. We didn’t want our citizens to think that we’re not closely monitoring this situation. At the same time, we don’t want to frighten people.”
The State of Emergency resolution was passed on a 4-1 vote. District 5 Council member Turner Townsend was opposed.
“While I agree with many of the stipulations in this resolution I cannot support it,” Townsend said. “I don’t think that the timing is right. I think we have time before we declare a State of Emergency, so therefore I think it’s a little premature.
“I don’t think all of the stipulations are premature, but I do think the actual declaration is premature. But I completely respect the need to be proactive and respect each individual decision on this. But that’s my stance.”
The resolution was presented after the City Council was in executive session for just over an hour and a half to discuss “security measures.”
“We have been in discussion as to what we as a council should do as far as to assure our citizens that we are doing everything within our power to protect them and to make sure that things in Enterprise flow as normally as possible,” Vickers announced after the council returned from executive session.
“This is an unprecedented situation. There’s going to be times that we might take an action that you might now like, or we might not take an action that you wished that we did. But please know that we are trying to do everything we can. Truly, to the hearts of this council, it is for the citizens of Enterprise. That’s what we’re here, because we wanted to serve them and we are trying to do so.”
District 1 Council member Sonya Rich said the State of Emergency is in line with those recognized in Washington and Montgomery.
“Our resolution was not done to heighten your anxieties, but rather to hopefully provide some assurance that we are on top of this situation,” Rich said. “We are not in a state of chaos here in Enterprise, Alabama. Our citizens conduct themselves in a way we all should be proud.”
District 4 Council member Al Miller said he supported the measure.
“I think we need to be proactive, and what this resolution does, it sets in place possible security and safety measures for the citizens of Enterprise that we may need to take in the upcoming weeks,” Miller said.
District 2 Council member Eugene Goolsby said being proactive is all that was intended by the declaration.
“We as a Council do not know anything that you as the public do not know,” Goolsby said. “We did not get any secret information or anything like everybody says.”
Mayor Cooper said it is important to keep the citizens informed.
“Let us not get into what we call fear and panic,” he said. “We know the situation. We’ve gone through swine flu, Ebola, whatever. This, too, shall pass. So let us stay together and let us communicate with each other because together we stand and divided we fall.”
Vickers said he wanted the citizens of Enterprise to know the Council is doing everything it possibly can.
“During trying times Enterprise has always put forward as a community. We have worked as a community,” he said. “We have maintained our character and our sense of duty. I ask for that to please continue. This is Enterprise.”