City of Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler, Ste. Genevieve County Fair board president Keith Skaggs, and county health department administrator Sandra Bell met with the Ste. Genevieve County Commission on May 4 to discuss a gradual reopening of the city following the COVID-19 shutdown.
Bell returned for the commission meeting last Thursday, as well.
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said Brian Wehner, president of Gear Headz LLC Car Club called him to talk about whether an upcoming car show the group had scheduled should be held. The club annually hosts a series of cruises each month from spring to fall in addition to the Jour de Fete car show.
Nelson said he told Wehner the county only had a say in the decision if it would be on county property.
Wehner told Nelson the club’s board wasn’t sure what to do.
“I said, ‘Well, Brian, what do you want to do?’” Nelson recounted. “He said, ‘I don’t think we should have it because we’ve got a lot of out of town people coming.’ I said, ‘Well, if you want a scapegoat, tell them we said no.’ So, they won’t be having their car show.”
Nelson said later in the summer, after the new Market Street parking lot is paved, that location could give the group a site with additional space to spread out.
The club’s car cruises last year took place on Third Street between Market and Merchant in downtown Ste. Genevieve, with some cars parked by the island of flags in front of the museum building on the Courthouse Square.
Hassler told Bell he had been getting a lot of questions seeking specifics about businesses and activities reopening following Governor Mike Parson’s announcement that the state could begin reopening on May 4.
Bell said that the guidelines she had written out called for continual, careful reopening.
“Open with slow guidance and monitor the surveillance of the disease spread,” she said. “If it’s not spreading, by all means, open up even more. If it is spreading, then we need to continue to stay closed down.”
Hassler said that by June, “We’ll have a very good idea of what’s going on.”
Nelson agreed that caution was needed.
“Last Monday, when the governor made his announcement, he was very clear to say that we’re not flipping the switch wide open, we’re turning the knob slowly,” Nelson said. “I think that’s what we need to do, turn it slowly. By this time next week, we’ll know whether it’s going to spike or not. We can’t sit here and say what’s going to happen in two weeks. This is something we’ve never seen before.”
Hassler is eager to see the town start getting back on its feet. He doesn’t feel leaders can wait until the virus completely disappears.
“It’s not going to go away,” Hassler said. “Maybe it’ll lessen, I guess. We don’t even know how it’ll be affected by the weather, like flu season, when usually you have a season for it. We don’t know how long it’s going to be around, we have no vaccine for it, so what do we do? … Sooner or later we have to walk by faith, I guess. We can’t stay shut down forever, but we’ve got to be smart about it. I guess we’ve got to watch those numbers.”
See complete story in the May 13 edition of the Herald.