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City of Leesville continues to run amid pandemic

Chris Schoonover

While multiple businesses and all the schools have been closed due to COVID-19, the City of Leesville is required to continue its business as usual as close as it can.

Leesville Mayor Rick Allen says they have no other choice but to keep holding public meetings.

“Obviously, we’re limited to 250 people, but we never have that many at a council meeting,” he said. “We do have to conduct the business of the city. We spend about $33,000 a day to operate the city of the Leesville, and it does require oversight and council votes.”

The Sunshine Law states “No person shall be denied the right to observe the deliberations of public bodies and examine public documents, except in cases established by law.”

"It’s going to be tough to abide by those, and it would be tough to conduct the business of the city without those meetings,” Allen said. “We have some contractors working for us that have to have their money. We cannot make them wait on their money. In order to pay them, we have to have them on the agenda, and it has to be voted on the council to pay them. In a situation like that, we will absolutely have to have a council meeting. Unless it’s a situation like that, we will absolutely cancel those council meetings.”

While the local government will continue paying its vendors, other small businesses in the area will have to alter its business practices to stay afloat during this time.

Allen also owns the Leesville Dairy Queen and has been making changes.

"If it’s a restaurant, they are in a better position than others in some fields,” he said. “What I mean by that is that they get to do to-go orders only while keeping money flowing for these employees. If they didn’t need a job, they wouldn’t have one. They need a job and a paycheck. It’s very important that we support our local businesses.”

Allen is having talks with multiple agencies to figure out the best way to deal with the pandemic sweeping across the country, and he urges people to take the necessary precautions.

"Have hand sanitizer, wash your hands a lot, avoid shaking hands and hugging and avoid going to public places,” Allen said. “If you can stay home, please stay home. Especially if you’re elderly or have underlying health conditions. You don’t need to be where there are lots of people.

“The biggest event for Leesville every year is Mayfest where we have 10,000 people down on Third Street, and I’m concerned. I’m concerned about and if we will be in the clear by the time that gets here. My advice to people right now is to just stay home.”