The Tahlequah City Council during a Jan 19 special meeting voted to allow anyone with outstanding warrants to be given a “fresh start."
Court Clerk Jeannie Secratt said that if defendants with failure-to-pay warrants remit half of the amount owed between Feb. 1 and April 30, the other half waived will be waived.
“In order to help those who have those warrants, we would like to try this program and give them a fresh start,” said Secratt. “It will also benefit the city, but I think it’ll benefit the defendants more than anyone.”
Rachel Dallis, acting municipal judge, said the program is a great chance for the city to recover money.
“Sometimes, in my short experience as judge, we already know there are some people, we’re not going to see a dime from them unless it’s keeping them out of our jails,” said Dallis, “They’ll pay that bond that we set to get them out of the jail, and we don’t see anything else from them.”
Dallis said defendants usually pay those costs during tax season, and it’s also a perfect time to clean up old case files because of the project.
“They’ll come in during tax time and they’ll try to keep that warrant from being pressed against them. I think launching this when we are, right now, is the best time for us to try to get money quickly,” she said.
Secratt said those with failure-to-pay warrants will receive letters from AMS, a collection agency.
“It’s not only for outstanding warrants, but they may have had a warrant at some point in time, it got served, and they hadn’t made any payments. The AMS still actively works to collect those fines,” said Secratt.
Officials updated the public on both task force teams and COVID-19.
“Oklahoma currently ranks 13 for vaccine distribution with 203,000 vaccines administered,” said Ward 1 City Councilor Bree Long. “Thirty-one million vaccines have been sent to the states with 12 million administered; that's nationwide data and not local.”
Long said mass immunization plans are in the works for the state. Northeastern Health System will be supporting and working in conjunction with the initiative.
“Both Northeastern Health System and Cherokee Nation are expanding the ability to take care of critical care patients by adding more hospitalists,” said Long. “PPE supplies are good; bed capacity is always a concern. We are experiencing our post-holiday spike, as we all anticipated.”
Ward 4 Councilor Trae Ratliff, head of the Economy Recovery Task Force team, reflected on the number of cases from Dec. 30.
“Just throughout discussion, during our meeting, we covered things we typically cover, such as events, and what will and will not being happening,” said Ratliff.
The Tahlequah Marketplace, through Northeastern State University’s Business and Technology program and the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, is in the works.
“There seems to be a lot of confusion about the vaccine, not so much, ‘Should I take the vaccine or not take it?’ but moreso, ‘If I’m a Cherokee citizen, how am I going to get signed up to get the vaccine?’” said Ratliff.
He said ERTF is compiling the information on the various channels as to where and when the vaccine will be given, and who can get one.
The next Tahlequah City Council meeting is Monday, Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.