Home News COVID-19 Business Updates City Council Votes Against Allowing County Fair at Porth Ag Arena

City Council Votes Against Allowing County Fair at Porth Ag Arena

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May 2 Election Pushed Back to Nov. 3

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Unusual times call for unusual measures and on Monday morning, March 23, the Crockett City Council held a telephonic meeting to discuss two major items affecting the residents of Crockett, as well as Houston County.

The two items concerned: the May 2 election and allowing the Houston County Fair and Youth Livestock Show to be held at the Porth Ag Arena. 

Before the meeting began in earnest, Crockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher addressed those listening in on the meeting.

“We do realize we are part of a nationwide crisis. We are taking all the precautions to keep our community safe. I would also like to remind you, don’t panic. We are still going to be able to live. In spite of or despite what’s going on, we are looking forward to working together as a community and a country as a whole,” the mayor said.

“Our lifestyle,” she continued, “has been kind of disrupted, but in spite of that, we are well aware there will be some limited resources and even in some areas some lack of resources. We would like to encourage everyone to have a personal plan to address the challenges we will be facing. We are appreciative to all of the agencies that have called in or are making recommendations to make sure this city is successfully run. We would like to encourage you and thank you for all of the things you are doing and all that you are going to do to make sure we get through this with the least amount of discomfort as possible.”

Once she concluded, Mayor Fisher opened the floor up for comments. Councilman Darrell Jones took the opportunity to ask if the city had a plan in place to deal with the non-payment of water bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also requested residents’ water not be shut off during this time.  

The mayor said she had been looking at the matter, but did not provide any further details.     

Following the approval of minutes from the March 2 City Council meeting the first item addressed was the postponement of the May 2 election.

With no discussion, Councilman Ernest Jackson made a motion to postpone the election to Nov. 3. Councilmember Marquita Beasley seconded the motion and the matter was approved by a vote of three in favor and one abstention.

Councilman Butch Calvert was unable to join in with the council during the telephonic meeting while Councilman Mike Marsh abstained from voting because the motion concerned the Precinct Five contested election between incumbent Marsh and challenger Rita Rodriguez.  

The next item of business concerned holding the 2020 Houston County Fair and Youth Livestock Show at the Porth Ag Arena – owned by the city of Crockett. The event was scheduled for March 30 through April 4.

Scott Moore, president of the Houston County Fair Association (HCFA) was present during the telephonic meeting and addressed the council.

“I appreciate you having this meeting for us,” he began. “I know everything that is going on in the country is hard for everyone, but I do know these kids in our county rely on this. They look forward to it each year. It’s not just about the showing of animals. It’s a monetary thing for them. Some people put their extra money – a dollar here or there – into these projects.”

Moore explained the HCFA had been working tirelessly on an alternate schedule only to have to re-tool the alternative plan following the executive orders issued by Gov. Greg Abbott which prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people.

“We have since come up with another plan which follows Madison County. What they did was have exhibitors drop off the animals at their arena, just one group at a time. That’s just one more option. I can pretty well tell – the way the country is going – we don’t need to have 30 plus exhibitors and the judge out there at one time,” he said.

Moore proposed having individual exhibitors drop off their livestock and having HCFA members secure them for judging. Then, at a designated time, the exhibitors could come by the arena and pick up their animals and take them home.

“That’s something we have come up with – a back-up, back-up plan. This is a possible way to help these kids out. That is our main objective to help these kids – without endangering anyone,” he said.

Once Moore concluded, the mayor opened the floor to the council in order that they might voice their sentiments on the matter.

Councilman Marsh said he was in favor of the idea proposed by Moore as long as “… they keep it like Madison County where they drop off the animals, judge them and then come pick them up. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

Councilman Darrell Jones expressed he was against the idea because “… it only takes one person to have the Coronavirus. I’m not willing to take that chance. Maybe we can reschedule it to another date. I’m not in favor of it.”

Councilman Ernest Jackson said the event had been part of the county history for quite some time and he understood “… the importance of it to the youth and children of the community as well as their parents and all of us who have invested and dedicated themselves to this event. But myself, I can’t see hosting this event at this particular time. Maybe we can reschedule as Councilman Jones indicated. We are in a national emergency. The COVID-19 virus is everywhere. We don’t know who the carriers are and who are not. I would not want to be a person who said yes and bring this liability to the city.”

Councilmember Marquita Beasley said she was with Councilmen Jackson and Jones.

“I want this for the kids but I wish they would look at a different week, even after the executive order, to see if they can reschedule this. Right now, he (Gov. Abbott) keeps changing the executive orders on us and I would hate for us to go against an executive order and be held liable if something was to happen. We can’t take those chances. I hate that this is happening.”

The mayor added, “What I’m hearing from the council – at this point – is that there is some reservation. It’s not so much about the event but rather where the event is being held where the city is liable. We know there might be another contingency plan to address it. But, what this conversation is about is the use of the city facilities.”

Councilman Jones made a motion to not approve the agenda item which was to, “Consider and approve the Houston County Fair and Livestock Association to hold the 2020 Youth Livestock show and Fair at Porth Ag Arena; scheduled for March 30 –April 4, 2020.”

Councilman Jackson seconded the motion and the measure to not have the fair at the Porth Ag Arena passed by margin of 3-1. Councilman Marsh voted in opposition.                   

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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