For the first time in several weeks, members of the Ripley City Council were able to meet in council chambers at the municipal building on May 19. Although each was given the option of calling into the meeting, Carolyn Waybright, Rick Buckley, Danny Martin, Bryan Thompson, John McGinley, Recorder David Casto, and Mayor Carolyn Rader met while observing social distancing.

The in-person meeting was an indication that the business of the city is attempting to get back to normal.

Further indication of this return is the water and garbage billing for businesses. The city suspended billing for the months of April and May for business accounts. Also, no penalties for late payment of water bills for households were charged for those months. After some discussion, council voted to return to regular billing practices for both businesses and households beginning with June billing.

Two major concerns discussed, with no action being taken, were the opening of the city pool and the Fourth of July celebration.

“We have to wait on the governor’s direction concerning the pool,” Rader said. “We have no idea what those are at this time. And then if he does allow opening, we’ll have to decide it we go ahead or just have the splash pad open this year. There are several factors to consider.”

The Fourth of July celebration, which has long been the biggest event for the city, is still being planned.

“I have requested a meeting with government officials to discuss our celebration,” Rader said. “I don’t want to cancel any part of it. I was given encouragement a few weeks ago to keep on planning and that’s what we’ve done. I hope to have more information soon.” (Note: the meeting with state officials has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 21)

The parade to honor all graduating Ripley High School seniors will be May 29. The mayor encouraged all council members to attend to show support.

“There’s a potential for 196 cars,” she said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. After they reach the high school, Mike Ruben will have remarks and the alma mater will be played. It’s going to be a wonderful event.”

In other business, council:

• Noted the recent report that, for the first time since March, Jackson County has no active COVID-19 cases

• Heard that upon proof of payment of bills related to COVID-19, the Jackson County Commission will pay up to $5,000 to the city from funds received from the state

• Heard from Chief Water Operator Jim Mitchum that water loss for last month was 6.3 percent

• Heard from Mitchum that work on the south bank of the dam will begin around June 1

• Learned that the city’s application for a minor boundary adjustment to the acreage recently purchased has been submitted to the county commission for a public hearing

• Learned that the replacement of water meter boxes and electrical work will be done on the South Court Street sidewalk project

• A reaffirmation of the drug-free workplace policy for the city of Ripley as previously approved for the employee's handbook was approved. This was at the request of the United States Department of Agriculture so funding for Phase 2 of the sewer project could proceed

• Heard from Councilman Buckley that the recycling locations will be open soon with some adjustments. Any updates will be available on the Jackson County Solid Waste Authority’s Facebook page.

The next meeting of the council will be at 7 p.m. on June 2 at the municipal building.