Weatherford Mayor Paul Paschall announced the city is taking a series of preventative measures due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in conjunction with the directives from both the federal government and State of Texas.
In response to the executive order from the Governor of Texas, Paschall has signed a Declaration of Local Disaster. By capturing federals dollars, it will allow the City of Weatherford to seek reimbursement on dollars spent toward addressing the COVID-19 situation. As a result, local dollars can continue to be spent toward Weatherford’s most important needs moving forward, such as public safety, streets, quality of life programs, animal control, water/electric utilities, library services, and parks.
“As things have developed in the city of Weatherford, the one thing we can all understand and agree on is that it is changing hour-by-hour,” Paschall said. “We are actively working with State Rep. Phil King, County Judge Pat Deen, Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, Center for Disease Control and Texas Health and Human Services to update city strategies. Working with them allows us to have the additional assistance should we need it for our essential personnel, be that for our fire and police departments, or our utilities. In consultation with city administration and city staff, city hall will be open for regular business. However, contingency plans are in place in the event that city hall must be closed, and employees sent home to work remotely.”
The city of Weatherford’s immediate and ongoing steps to close public spaces, cancel public events and assist local businesses with messaging, along with Abbott’s March 19 disaster declaration means the city is working hand-in-hand with the global community to combat COVID-19. At this time, Abbott’s Emergency Health Order requires schools, bars, clubs and gyms to close and for restaurants to offer only "to go" service. This is NOT a shelter-in-place order and does not prevent citizens from shopping for essential items or domestic travel.
“Our local businesses are extremely important to the vitality, quality of life and economy of the Weatherford area,” Paschall said. “However, the way we respond as a community to this situation will determine how quickly we recover from it. We are bound by and fully support the restrictions set by Gov. Abbott.”
Below are the closures and business practice updates being made by the City of Weatherford with the understanding that further steps are possible in the future:
Weatherford’s Police Department staffing is still at full capacity, while also having the contingency plan of state assistance if needed. As a precautionary measure, the Weatherford Police Department has closed the station to the public, suspended the ride-along program and halted public fingerprinting. The city has asked that all volunteers stay at home for the time being. Earlier this week Weatherford enacted an officer-callback response to all non-emergency situations. The city is asking that the public allow officers to save the in-person response to only emergencies.
The Weatherford Fire Department has seen no changes in response time or staffing. Firefighters respond to medical calls and are often the first on the scene to provide aid. They have operational awareness from past training and historical events, as well as a back-up system in place and the ability to take extra precautionary measures to deal with any potential staffing issues. This includes assistance from the state in keeping fire staff at full capacity. The city is taking extra precautions on all calls just in case. Effective earlier this week, WFD has suspended all non-essential fire services, such as station tours, fire inspections, public relations events, and public appearances.
The city's water department is and will continue to remain unaffected, according to a press release, and will not close at any time. The water treatment plant is designed to purify and disinfect water free of pathogens, toxins, and other contaminants. The city continuously runs water quality checks to monitor water quality and verify disinfection levels, according to the release, so there is no need to stock up on water supplies, as the water source is safe and reliable.
The city's electric department is staffed and capable of responding to any service disruption regardless of the time of day, according to the release. This should provide comfort to residents and businesses that they will have reliable and dependable electric service during this event. Both the water and electric departments will remain at full staff, and will be able to seek extra staffing assistance, as a contingency plan, if needed.
The city is continuing to provide solid waste and recycling services as normally scheduled. However, should an issue arise, there are staff contingency plans in place, according to the release.
The Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter, which services the county as well, will continue emergency animal control related issues. A decision was made to close the shelter to the public on March 19, although phone and email service remains active. Intake from the public and visitation to the shelter will be suspended, including volunteering and community service. The shelter will not be taking in any animals from the public that are brought to the facility. The shelter is also suspending any trapping of cats and/or wildlife, but will continue to answer phones and respond to emails for lost pets that are at the shelter. The shelter will not be facilitating adoptions during this closure, but will continue working with rescue organizations to place tags on animals, according to the release.
The Weatherford Public Library has shifted from allowing public in the building to a curb-side book check-out system. Patrons can request materials and resources through the website or on the phone and library staff will bring it to their car. The city is also updating its website to showcase the different online resources for books and activities for checkout at this time. Library staff is also working to livestream Storytime and feature some at-home activities to keep kids entertained as well.
The Weatherford Parks, Recreations and Special Events Department has over 835 acres of beautiful and inclusive parks and 21 miles of trailway that are still open to the public and will remain open to the public throughout this process. The parks department is working to sanitize all park restrooms, pavilions, water fountains, benches and the 10 city parks, daily through the use of power washing and disinfecting, according to the release. The city encourages everyone to still get out for fresh air, while still practicing social distancing (the CDC recommends 6 feet and gatherings of no more than 10 people). Staff is also working to get scavenger hunts updated weekly on social media to get kids up, outside, active and having fun while still maintaining social distance, according to the release. Lastly, to adhere to federal and state recommendations and mandates, Weatherford has suspended or canceled all public events and moved to close Chandor Gardens to the public.
Weatherford's finance department is working on financial flexibility plans and solidifying contingency plans for utility billing. Pending utility board approval on Thursday, March 26 there will be no assessment of late penalties or disconnects of utility services.
Online and over-the-phone services provide an alternate resource for people still needing to do business with the city. The municipal court and utility billing both have secure online payment options on the city's website, or you can always secure night-drop box, on the east side of city hall on Davis Street.
“This city is prepared as much as humanly possible,” Paschall said. “There are going to be hardships and disappointments, but we are going to rise above them. City staff will continue to update the COVID-19 policies, city closures and assistance for local businesses. Keep in mind, we have contingency plans in place and have spent countless hours training our staff to respond in difficult times like these. As a community we are showing our resiliency and resolve from individuals, businesses and charitable organizations. I could not be prouder of our response as a community. Weatherford is a strong community and will continue to be a strong community.”
For questions, please contact Director of Communications and Marketing Blake Rexroat at 817-598-4209 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found at www.weatherfordtx.gov/covid19 with new information being added by the hour.