The Ellis County Commissioners Court voted earlier this week to take no action regarding a resolution in support of Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive orders and declaring the county open for business within those guidelines.
It also took no action on a separate, second resolution that supported the re-opening of businesses without restrictions.
With the first resolution, residents’ efforts were applauded while the county has battled the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The measure also offered up prayers and encouragement for those residents who are struggling financially and gave support, as well, to the Ellis County Economic Recovery Task Force.
The first resolution recognized that COVID-19 remains a danger and said the county would comply with guidelines to beat the virus with the exception of any contact tracing program that would violate privacy.
As part of the discussion, Ellis County Judge Todd Little said he had formed the Ellis County Economic Recovery Task Force, which is composed of several dozen community business leaders. The task force will help provide recommendations for the county’s reopening.
United Way of West Ellis County executive director Kasey Cheshier is a task force member representing area nonprofits.
“We really tried to do our due diligence to put together recommendations and guidelines because we all want to get back to life and work,” Cheshier said. “But we want to make sure that we are adhering to safe guidelines. We are here today to voice our support for these guidelines and pledge my support.”
Several residents expressed their concerns about the economic impact felt from the pandemic – and what they said would be further damaging effects if the governor’s directives were followed.
Waxahachie resident Sam Bryant said the directives “don’t speak” for him.
“My guidelines are pretty simple: If you feel sick, don’t come. If you’re worried about contracting or catching (something), don’t come. It is pretty simple,” Bryant said. “I don’t think that I need an ad hoc committee or a commissioners court to tell me how to operate or strategically place 6 feet apart.”
The Vault Smokehouse in Waxahachie co-owner Money Salmon shared her experience during the pandemic.
“Since COVID-19, we have never closed down,” she said. “Our dine-in did close down but we remained open as far as takeout, delivery and curbside. Our business was affected and it did cut us down by 50-percent straight away.
“We don’t have a backup plan,” she said. “Our livelihood is our restaurant. That is how we support our family but also our community outreach for people.”
Salmon described the regulations as “difficult to operate under” – and said guidelines should be left to the discretion of the business.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry said the second resolution would “send a message” to Austin that people are tired of “edicts” that create a “financial hardship” on people.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson noted, however, that reopening the economy was not in the commissioners court’s hands.
“I may not always agree with what our president does but I certainly support his efforts,” Grayson said. “I feel for our governor. I don’t think he is a tyrant. I think that he has tough decisions to make and so do we. The battle for opening Texas is not in this courtroom. It is on the steps of the (state) Capitol.”
Perry made the motion to approve the second resolution to open up the county without restrictions. The motion failed because of the lack of a second.
Grayson then made the motion to take no action on either of the resolutions. That motion was approved in a 3-1 vote with Perry dissenting.