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PSJ again commissioners push face masks

Tim Croft

Port St. Joe city commissioners have been out front calling for the wearing of facial masks as the COVID-19 pandemic rages.

In a tidy short bi-monthly regular meeting Tuesday, they were at again.

This time, sitting before them was an ordinance commissioners had asked their attorney to draft which would mandate face masks in all public places.

Though several have discussed such a mandate in the past and commissioners have reserved as a last resort, there was no call for a vote.

Mayor Rex Buzzett said he did not expect any decision on a mandate Tuesday, but offered the ordinance to commissioners to review for comments and suggestions.

Buzzett noted that positive cases in the county have risen to nearly 400, there have been two deaths in the past week and the percentage of positives among those tested remained high at 15 percent.

“We’d like to see that down to 10 percent or lower,” Buzzett said.

Buzzett said he continued to express frustration with the flaunting of requests to the public to wear masks.

The city has erected signs downtown and approved an emergency declaration last month “requiring” the wear of face masks in public places, particularly when social distancing is not possible.

“We can’t force them to do it,” said Commissioner Scott Hoffman. “We can only ask them to follow what we are asking.”

Hoffman, an early proponent of wearing masks, said he continued to be frustrated by those who simply will not take heed of advice offered by public health officials from the President down. face masks should be worn in public places where social distancing is not possible.

Those who continued to accept advice from non-medical professionals, especially on social media was “alarming and surprising,” Hoffman added.

Transfer station

Commissioners reached agreement with BCC for use of the city’s transfer yard off Industrial Road.

BCC has been in need of a transfer yard since the county took over operations of the transfer station at Five Points.

A major sticking point concerning the roughly 5 acre parcel off Industrial Road was who owned it.

The city only owns three of the five acres, the remainder belonging to the county.

BCC owner Jason Tunnell said his team cleaned up the city’s portion of the land and wished to place a pole barn on the concrete slab that already exists.

He asked, and commissioners agreed, to reduce the price of a lease agreement from $2,000 to $1,000 per month as BCC will no longer being using the entire five acres.

Commissioners also praised improvements BCC has made on yard-debris pick-up.

Trail bridges

Commissioners approved the purchase of several bridges from low bidder Ravens Marine.

The company will replace bridges on the Port City Trail within the loop around Buck Griffin Lake as well as replacing bridges at Long Ave. and the 18th Street stormwater passage and the pedestrian bridge along Palm Blvd.