Benton County is now under a state of emergency, according to County Mayor Brett Lashlee. He made the declaration at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Lashlee said, “I have been discussing over the past weeks that eventually the county would be issuing a Declaration of State of Emergency and that time has come. I believe this to be the first such order in county history so we have no template to pull from past experiences.”
He explained, “Understand, this declaration is for the county areas outside of the two incorporated cities (Big Sandy and Camden). However, to have an overall beneficial safety impact for not only our citizens, but also our business entities, the county and cities had to act in unison. Meaning, we all had to be in agreement of the terms and the timing. We properly educated ourselves as to the end goal we are trying to achieve. That end goal is that we have to invoke safety measures that provide structure and uniformity for our citizens while conducting essential activities within the community.”
“This declaration will emulate much of what the governor has already mandated with the exception that we introduced measures that will limit the customer capacity of our large operating retail establishments (groceries, home necessities, convenience markets), and set operating time limits (open & closing hours) upon these businesses. This is not a curfew. We believe this declaration will curtail a lot of the casual traffic we are seeing throughout the community. We have worked with and orientated many in our business community that are directly impacted by this and with their whole-hearted support of this action,” the mayor said.
Lashlee furthered, “We will extend, rescind, or revise this declaration on a weekly basis. If we see additional gaps then we will address them in future extensions. This order, although mirroring the governor’s orders, does apply on a week to week basis even if the governor changes his orders. We (county and city mayors) believe this action is something that will be of great benefit to our jurisdictions of control in terms of safety, as well as abiding by the state level executive orders previously issued.”
Lashlee said it is for the best interest of all citizens of the county. He said, “This emergency declaration will now bring us fully into an emergency operating posture needed to prepare and position us to better handle this COVID-19 crisis from the local perspective. The order will go into effect on midnight 12:01 a.m., Monday, April 13.”
He finished by thanking everyone for their patience, cooperation and support during these unprecedented times we find ourselves in. Lashlee said, “God Bless you all and may God bless Benton County.”