Molalla aims to get back to business
When will Molalla reopen? In a short Molalla City Council meeting Wednesday, May 13, that was one of the bigger questions councilors considered.
But there is no easy answer at this point.
The council pointed to its website, which offers this synopsis of Gov. Kate Brown's decision about what could open May 15: "The governor's order lifts that mandate on May 15 state-wide for those that can follow OHA guidelines, without approval of the Clackamas County reopening application. Child care, summer school, camps and youth programs (with limitations and specific guidelines) are also going to be allowed to open on May 15 state-wide without an approved Clackamas County reopening application."
But there are still plenty of hoops to jump through before Molalla can fully open for business.
"The city of Molalla, nor any city in the state of Oregon, has the authority to make that decision. The governor, last week, gave that responsibility to each county in the state," said City Manager Dan Huff. "There are 36 counties in the state of Oregon, and as of today, 33 have submitted plans to reopen their counties, with a Phase I opening."
The three most populous, including Clackamas County, are still working on their plan and hope to submit something in the near future.
Huff added that it can be a bit confusing, particularly for businesses not covered under the governor's Phase I plan, but noted that much of it depends on what the county will do moving forward.
"The mayor and council have been working on a reopen Molalla plan, but if the county isn't reopening, that plan is at least going to maybe help them move faster, which is our hope," Huff said.
"There is a group of business folks in town that have been working hard out there to get the word out and make sure businesses have a plan to open when they can and find out what kind of material they need, whether it's sanitizing equipment or whatever it might be — and that's a good thing," he said. "We can't open the city of Molalla without the consent of Clackamas County."
Mayor Keith Swigart pointed to the city's website, which has information about business openings and other COVID-related news for Molalla residents. He also noted that he partnered with several other area mayors to help push things along.
"If you remember, the governor a couple of weeks ago, said that it would be July 6 before any decisions were made or anything could happen," Swigert said. "A group of five mayors, myself included, got together and worked on a press conference. While we said we will not, and we do not plan on, breaking with her (Gov. Kate Brown's) declaration, we said, please come up with a plan or turn it over to the mayors to let us come up with one.
"At that point, things started happening," Swigert said. "We got retail open, we got day care open, we've got summer camps open. The way I look at it, a small win is still a win. We do have a small win."
Swigert noted there are four cities in Clackamas County — Molalla, Estacada, Sandy and Canby — that he'd consider rural. Unfortunately, he added, Clackamas County also has Metro involved in it, so there's a tie-in with Washington and Multnomah counties. Swigert also noted that while Multnomah County had 13 new COVID-19 cases in the past few days, Clackamas County had none.
"However, if we are going to continue to be tied to the other two counties that have a lot more citizens in it, we may have a problem," said Swigert, who said that rural mayors would work with the Clackamas County commissioners to move things forward.
"I want you to know, as your mayor, I am working on it," he added. "I will let you know if anything else breaks."
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