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Bement Citizens and Board Members Speak Out Against Stay at Home Order

On May 12, the Bement Village Board met with some in person, and four members over the phone in the Village Hall. The main topic of discussion revolved around the Stay at Home Order put in place by Governor Pritzker in March.

Staff Writer

On May 12, the Bement Village Board met with some in person, and four members over the phone in the Village Hall. The main topic of discussion revolved around the Stay at Home Order put in place by Governor Pritzker in March. Recently he released a report showing the phases that Illinois will take to re-open. Currently Piatt County is in Phase 2 with Phase 3 potentially beginning at the end of May allowing places like hair salons to reopen, but with social distancing and no more than 10 people allowed in a room at a time. Facemasks will still be required at this stage.

Tara Garrett spoke out publicly during the comment section of the agenda about the order. She is the owner of Mama T’s in Bement. “Personally my business is thriving, but I know that there are others that are at a stand still. Like to me, a hair salon. I don’t understand why you can’t keep a social distance.” She added, “Especially in a small community where you don’t have many cases, probably zero now.”

Board Member Clayton Ahlden agreed, “I don’t think there are any active cases in this town. I totally agree with you.”

According to the IDPH Piatt County has 3 pending cases of Covid-19, 6 recovered, and 1 positive as of May 14. In Macon County there are currently 161 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The attorney that advises the board told the board they cannot defy the stay at home order without repercussions. Some of those repercussions could be losing State held licenses for hair stylists, bar owners, and more.

Becky Durbin the Bement Pool Manager was also present and asked if the pool would open this year. “According to Pritzker’s guidelines we can open up on June 26 up to 50 people.” The pool would be able to open with less than 50 people at the end of July if the phases continue to move forward and there are no setbacks with an uptick in positive cases. However, face masks would still be required as would some social distancing. There were concerns of liability as well with insurance.

Board Trustee, Frank Koebel stated over the phone, “This is my own personal opinion, the swimming pool basically loses money every year and I don’t think we should take the chance at all to open up the village to any liability or problem with the state.”

Board Member Judy Good seconded that, and Trustee Mark Henderson agreed. “Well this stuff could turn around and go rapid again if people go out and basically start partying and stuff and it could get worse than what it sounds. I think we need to use our heads and not rush into anything especially like the pool. I do not want to see any lawsuit from some parents suing Bement because their kid got an illness out there and brought it home and a parent passed away. I think we need to be responsible with what we are doing. I don’t agree with opening up the pool.”

By the next day on Facebook, it was announced the Bement Pool will not open this season.

Clayton and Heidi Alhden also sent a letter to Governor Pritzker voicing their concerns about the Stay at Home Order and phased reopening plan for Illinois. They mentioned they are concerned about small businesses, “With our restaurants and bars only allowed to operate for curb-side-to-go orders, they are not able to sustain themselves. Churches are unable to open their doors, and venues such as the town pool are at risk of not being able to operate at all this year. As we watch neighboring states, and even some towns willing to defy the executive orders, open up, our business owners are being held hostage by the state having to choose between opening up and possibly losing their licenses or not opening and possibly going out of business due to lack of sales. They are being presented with a lose-lose situation.” In the letter they went on to add that they would like the Village of Bement police force, Piatt County Police Force to not enforce the Stay at Home orders, and the Piatt County District Attorney to not enforce violations. “We must support each other during this time. We ask that everyone stand up in voicing their Civil Rights.We must not give up our freedoms so easily.”

The village board also approved the 2020 General MFT Maintenance program, and tabled the discussion of sewer hookups and appropriation transfers until they can all meet in person. Only two people wore masks during the meeting.

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