Payne County Commission approves early Phase 3 re-opening

Payne County is moving into Phase 3 of Gov. Kevin Stitt's plan to re-open Oklahoma a few days early. County officials hope it will give the Payne County Expo Center a head start in booking events that had to be moved and rescheduled. Photo courtesy of Payne County Expo Center

Noting only one active COVID-19 virus case in Payne County, Chris Reding, Payne County Commissioner for District 2, recommended moving to Phase 3 of Governor Kevin Stitt’s plan to open Oklahoma’s economy earlier than the Governor’s June 1 goal.

During Thursday’s end of the month meeting of the Payne County Board of Commissioners, all three commissioners voted in favor of moving ahead to Phase 3.

Reding told the News Press that the main reason for moving ahead as early as possible was to give the Payne County Expo Center a head start on booking events.

Expo Center manager Colin Campbell has been receiving a lot of phone calls from event organizers who had scheduled in other areas and other states that are not opening up yet, Reding said.

He sees an opportunity for the county to benefit from their need to find a new venue.

The move to Phase 3 doesn’t affect the Payne County Administrations building and road district offices, which have already opened to the public.

County courthouses are getting back to business, although social distancing requirements remain in place and trials have been rescheduled for after July 31, based on an order from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Phase 3 provides that employers can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites and summer camps for churches and schools can open.

A health care facility may allow one patient representative to accompany a patient on a health care visit but visits to senior care facilities are still prohibited.

Phase 1 of Stitt’s plan allowed dining, entertainment, movie theaters and sporting venues to open on May 1, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols.

The CDC has updated considerations for restaurants and bars that recommend changing restaurant and bar layouts to ensure that all customer parties remain at least 6 feet apart.

Reding said the county’s move to Phase 3 allows bars and restaurants that aren’t located within a city’s corporate limits to operate.

“Let’s get this county back to work and back to business,” he said.

In regular business, the commissioners approved a postage meter rental agreement for the County Clerk and a contract with Chickasaw Telecommunications Services for internet service at the Payne County Expo Center.

• The commissioners approved payment of 107 purchase orders totaling $210,379, June blanket purchase orders totaling $242,134 and a payroll of $900,125 for approximately 250 county employees.

• The commissioners selected providers for road and bridge construction materials on 16 six-month bids.

• In public announcements from the board, Commissioner Zach Cavett warned people that traffic on Fairground Road between State Highway 51 and 68th street will be restricted to one lane when road resurfacing commences on June 8.

The contractor estimates the project will be completed in 30 days.

City Editor Michelle Charles contributed to this story.

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