Officials updated the public on both task force teams and COVID-19 during a July 6 Tahlequah City Council meeting.

Ward 1 Councilor Bree Long said the Crisis Task Force team had been updated on virus cases earlier that day.

"There are 61 positives year-to-date through Northeastern Health System, and the County Health Department stated that we are sitting at 90 total positives in Cherokee County," Long said. "The total deaths have remained low, thankfully, at approximately three."

Long added the task force is inviting members of Tahlequah Public Schools, Northeastern State University, and Indian Capital Technology Center to participate in future meetings in preparation for the upcoming school year.

"The group would like to collectively urge the group to wear masks to help prevent the two health care systems from possibly being overwhelmed," Long said. "Additionally, they're asking that we all continue to practice social distancing on behalf of the greater good as we approach the fall."

Ward 4 Councilor Trae Ratliff said the Economy Recovery Task Force team will meet Thursday, July 9, to review the criteria of the pandemic.

"The message is pretty simple: wear your mask. I think that alone seems to be the difference between us as a community fighting this thing effectively or not," he said. "I'll say it again: Wear your masks. If we can continue to get that into the community, then hopefully we don't have to go down the road of closures or ordinances. If we can keep those numbers low by people wearing their masks – it's a simple and easy measure on everybody's part and responsibility to do so."

Mayor Sue Catron echoed Ratliff by saying she didn't want to revert to processes that may limit local businesses.

"We're going to have to wear our masks and keep our numbers low; it's important," Catron said.

The board gave its nod to a grant from the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department-Recreational Trails Program. The $240,000 grant will go toward construction of a one-mile ADA compliant multi-use recreational trail in Mission Park.

The total grant amount is $300,000, and it's an "80/20," meaning the Tahlequah Mission Park Project will get the $240,000 from the state program, but the group has to come up with $60,000.

"We're good. We have money, we've been fundraising, we have plenty of in-kind contributions to offset whatever we might be lacking in funding. I appreciate all of your support," said Dana Boren-Boer, TMPP vice president.

Grant writer Shelldon Miggletto said this will enable Catron and/or Interim City Administrator Alan Chapman to sign and execute documents.

Solid Waste Superintendent Chris Armstrong's request to purchase a fully automated truck was approved.

"This truck is the exact same we demo'ed: 9-foot arm extendible, side load with the back end that's going covered, so there won't be anymore slosh or trash juices going down the streets or in people's driveways," Armstrong said. "It's a one-man truck and we got these poly carts to move that direction. If you decided to buy this truck, we can get it tomorrow, so there's not a nine- or 12-month wait. This truck is on the lot and ready to go."

The total cost of the truck is $240,000, and it is a budgeted item.

What's next

The next Tahlequah City Council meeting is July 20 at 5:30 via Zoom.

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