Council tables Fourth of July event discussion

by Tonia Brooks
Staff Writer | May 21, 2020 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Carefully following Gov. Brad Little’s stages to reopening Idaho, Bonners Ferry City Council members met in person at their Tuesday, May 19, meeting, which was also available for public participation via the Zoom app.

The Council discussed a full agenda of new business to include considerations regarding the absence of a Memorial Day parade this year and whether or not to grant an application to hold a Fourth of July event.

Council members noted that the American Legion has hosted the Memorial Day’s activities to include a parade in downtown Bonners Ferry in the past, though has not sought to do it this year.

A decision was made to deny an application for a special event permit to host a Memorial Day event at this time.

It was noted that Idaho state is currently in stage two of Governor Little’s Stages of Reopening protocols. The dates for Stage 2 are from May 16 through May 29, as per the Rebound Idaho website. This particular stage stipulates that public and private gatherings should have less than 10 people in attendance.

Council members made a motion that due to the constraints imposed by the Governor’s stage two orders for social distancing, that it is not feasible to have the Memorial Day parade this year. The roll call vote was unanimous in that no event permit would be granted for the parade.

The council went on to discuss the Fourth of July event proposal and took some time to view a packet of information concerning the event.

The council entered into a discussion on how the Fourth of July event had been organized in the past at the Boundary County Fairgrounds.

Val Thompson mentioned that Stage 4 guidelines for reopening are scheduled to happen June 13 through June 26. Thompson further spoke and let the council members know that she had informally inquired with doctors and varied regional health entities on holding an event such as the Fourth of July, who she stated that the council should look at state and regional guidelines. Thompson informed the other members that Panhandle Health told them to proceed with caution.

Council members discussed the cancellations of other areas’ events. Libby and Troy, Mont., have canceled their Fourth of July events, as did the city of Sandpoint.

Mayor Dick Staples estimated there may be anywhere from 300 to 1,200 people who attend the Fourth of July event in Boundary County, and the council deduced that the heightened numbers of attendees would be people coming from these other locations where events have been canceled.

The conclusion to the Fourth of July event is that should the application be approved, it would be on a conditional basis due to the COVID-19 social distancing stages and recommendations by the Governor’s order.

Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman was asked if his department would be able to handle traffic concerns during a Fourth of July celebration.

“We will get through it,” confirmed Zimmerman, “It is not a problem.”

Mayor Staples suggested that the Fourth of July event topic be tabled for now until communication could be completed with county officials on the event.

The city council meeting ended with members entering into executive session.

The Bonners Ferry City Council meets at 6 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month. The next Bonners Ferry City Council meeting is June 2 via the ZOOM app. The app is free to download from your smartphone play store. For more Info: 208-267-3105 or visit bonnersferry.id.gov for info on how to participate and for the meeting ID and password.