Members of the Euharlee City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday evening’s public meeting to approve an agreement allowing the Just Believe Christmas for Kids Foundation to lease the granary facility throughout the remainder of the year.
“It still requires them to provide us with a certificate of insurance, but there are no changes to the proposed and recommended lease,” said Euharlee City Manager James Stephens.
Foundation representative Kathy Bibbings said the coronavirus pandemic is necessitating several major changes to the organization’s annual Festival of Trees Christmas fundraiser.
“With the COVID numbers right now, they’re bouncing around all over the place,” she said. “I just wanted to let you guys know that we have got everything in place to do it virtual, doing the auction online that we would normally do inside the building.”
She said the organization may allow families to enter the granary, but only by appointment, in limited numbers and with face masks required.
“We certainly don’t want to put anybody in any kind of health risk,” she said. “We’re here to help the children and not make people sick.”
Bibbings said there are no plans for bonfires or train rides this year.
“We’re not going to do the parade, we’re going to try to carry the festival all month in November into December, like we normally would, just to give us some extra time to get in some extra money,” she said.
Stephens said that the City is willing to provide additional masks for the festivities, if requested by the foundation.
“If it gets out that it’s cancelled or anybody thinks we’ve cancelled, then we’re not even going to be able to get monetary donations or raffle donations,” Bibbings said. “If people are concerned about getting a tree that somebody’s had their hands in, then by all means, cash donations work.”
Councilman Tim Abbott asked if it was possible to do a “drive-thru” tree bidding this year.
Bibbings said that wouldn’t be very likely.
“When you set up a tree for somebody to bid on and you’re moving it around, it destroys a lot of the stuff that’s on it,” she said. “But we will have a light show outside for people to enjoy.”
Bibbings also floated the idea of allowing children to take socially-distant photographs with Santa Clause on Euharlee’s famed covered bridge.
Stephens said he had no objections to the idea.
“I think families have awareness of what they’re comfortable doing,” he said. “Any way we can assist safely, I support.”
Euharlee Mayor Steve Worthington agreed, stating he was comfortable with the concept just as long as the children are safely monitored during the photo shoots.
Elsewhere on the agenda, members of the council heard a first reading of — but took no action on — a request to amend the City’s ordinance pertaining to the historic preservation committee.
The proposed changes would expand the maximum number of members on the board from three to five people. The council is expected to hear a second reading of the ordinance amendment at a special-called meeting slated for Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at 30 Burge’s Mill Road.
Mayor Worthington said that will also be when the council discusses its health insurance and employee benefits renewal package, which was a late scratch from Tuesday’s agenda line-up.
“There’s some stuff going on with the city manager and some of the rest of us who are interested in looking at it,” he said. “We’re wanting to look at some stuff before we make this decision.”
Council members also approved a request to pay Cartersville’s A West Plumbing Services for a trenching project.
“We have been working with a small leak that we’ve experienced off the meter that serves the old museum, the granary and Frankie Harris Park,” Stephens said. “After much research and turning valves on and off, we believe that the leak is under the mound at the new library.”
He said the estimate for the trenching comes out to about $3,800.
“I believe we’re capable of installing the pipe and saving the labor and sales tax on that,” he said. “If you’d rather me obtain a quote on the full turnkey I’d be glad to do that, but I believe paying for the trenching and us providing the labor and saving the sales tax is prudent.”
Stephens said the City already has the equipment and capability to backfill the trench.
“The meter will not have to be changed, we will not have to pay a new tap fee to Bartow County,” he said. “The line that serves the museum, we will tie into that same line … it may not be actually under the building itself, but it’s very close to the building.”
The meeting concluded with a promotion ceremony led by Euharlee Police Chief Jody Matthews. Cliff Yeager was promoted to lieutenant of the EPD’s field operations division; Allen McNelis was promoted to lieutenant of the EPD’s administrative services division; and Tim Merrell was promoted to sergeant of the EPD’s uniform patrol division.