News Flash

Home Page Articles

Posted on: March 13, 2020

Updates from EMA and City of Athens regarding COVID-19

Athens logo

David Pryor speaks at a media briefing on COVID-19


April 28, 2020 - Mayor Marks extends closure of city facilities to the public through May 15

This will give departments time to complete changes that limit exposure for employees and citizens, such as adding plexiglass windows at counters. 

April 28, 2020 - Athens Utilities extends suspension of the practice of disconnecting utilities for nonpayment to May 15

Athens Utilities is again extending its suspension of the practice of disconnecting utility services for nonpayment.

Customer Accounts Manager Bill Vaughn said the new extension date is May 4 since Gov. Kay Ivey’s state health order to stay at home goes through April 30.

Customers will be responsible for the full bill amount accrued until payment is made. Vaughn urges customers to pay what they can on their bills to help keep their balances low.

April 27, 2020 - Athens City Council waives late fees for small business

The Athens City Council approved an ordinance that waives fees for late payments of municipal sales tax liabilities for small businesses (those who in the previous calendar year averaged $62,500 or less/monthly retail sales) and for restaurants. The Council also waived late fees for municipal lodging taxes.

The fees are waived for February, March, April and May taxes and will be waived through July 1.

These businesses still need to file their reports, but this does defer payment and waive the late fee. The city cannot defer the interest.

April 14, 2020 - Athens Utilities extends suspension of the practice of disconnecting utilities for nonpayment to May 4

Athens Utilities is again extending its suspension of the practice of disconnecting utility services for nonpayment.

Customer Accounts Manager Bill Vaughn said the new extension date is May 4 since Gov. Kay Ivey’s state health order to stay at home goes through April 30.

Customers will be responsible for the full bill amount accrued until payment is made. Vaughn urges customers to pay what they can on their bills to help keep their balances low.

Athens Utilities’ offices are closed to the public because of COVID-19 protocols, but Athens Utilities offers different methods for conducting business remotely.

Payments

  • Drive-thru at 508 S. Jefferson Street. Lane is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Pay online at www.athens-utilities.com. The online company that provides this service does charge a fee.
  • Mail bill stub with payment to City of Athens Utilities, P.O. Box 830200, Birmingham, AL, 35283-0200.
  • Place bill stub with payment in the night box at the facility at 508 S. Jefferson Street.
  • Pay by phone by calling toll free 1-855-760-0921. The company that provides this service does charge a fee.
  • Pay by bank draft (no fee). Forms are available:

April 6, 2020 - Media briefing from Athens and Limestone County

Today, Athens and Limestone officials met at Athens City Hall to hold a media briefing on COVID-19 with updates on city, schools, hospital, county and EMA, as well as how to abide by the state health order and observe Easter.

Highlights

1,927 cases statewide and 33 of those in Limestone County.

Mayor Marks said that during today’s State Task Force teleconference, Dr. Scott Harris said officials expect hospitalizations to peak between April 15-20. He reiterated for citizens to not look for loopholes in the state health order. Stay home as much as possible.

Athens Supt. Trey Holladay said eLearning is going well, as are the school breakfast/lunch program. Today, school staff distributed 3,300 meals to City and County students.

Athens-Limestone Hospital Dr. Matt Hanserd said the hospital is "preparing for a battle" not knowing if it will be a skirmish or big battle. He said there are three patients in ICU at the hospital with COVID-19, and the average age they are seeing test positive is 49. He reiterated to stay home when possible and to ask yourself if leaving home is "best for my community" and can it wait?

City attorney Shane Black said the state health order will allow churches to observe Easter if they do drive-in services where people stay in their vehicles. Only people from the same household are to be in a vehicle. He said recreation such as walking and biking are allowed under the state health order, but people still need to maintain a distance. Organized sporting events are not allowed, and playgrounds are closed. He added, "Use your God-given Limestone County common sense."

County Commission Chairman Collin Daly along with Mayor Marks said City and County employees continue to provide essential services to citizens while adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Chairman Daly said the Alabama Veterans Museum has offered the Event Center space for use, if needed, if the hospital sees a surge in patients.

EMA Director Rita White said she continues to work with state on obtaining needed PPE for healthcare professionals and responders. 

April 2, 2020 - Supreme Court extends suspension of in-person court proceedings to April 30

Athens Municipal Court is operating under the Supreme Court mandate to suspend in-person court proceedings through the extended date of April 30.

What does this mean for those with proceedings in Athens Municipal Court?

  1. The courtroom remains closed to the public.
  1. Municipal Court staff are working modified hours. Those with court-related questions or those who need to make court-related payments can call 256-233-8733 or email court@athensal.us during these hours: Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  1. Effective immediately, any person who has been sentenced and ordered to make monthly payments toward his or her fine, costs or other court-ordered fees have a 60-day grace period to make said payment. This will include payments for March and April 2020. (This applies to previously sentenced defendants.)
  1. Our clerks will accept payments of any amount from those who are able to make a payment. (This applies to previously sentenced defendants.)
  1. Those not previously sentenced who need to correspond with court for an individual need or request regarding inability to make a citation payment can email court@athensal.us or fax requests to 256-233-6889.
  1. Defensive Driving School scheduled for April 20 is cancelled. Court staff are contacting those who registered to discuss a rescheduling date.

Please note these local procedures are for Athens Municipal Court ONLY. The local procedures do not apply to Limestone County Circuit and District courts.  

Photo of a gavel

March 31, 2020 - Municipal Court announces modified staff schedules

Athens Municipal Court is still operating under the Supreme Court mandate to suspend court proceedings. Municipal Court staff will work modified hours starting April 1.

The courtroom remains closed to the public, but those with court-related questions or those who need to make court-related payments can call or email during these hours:

Phone Number is 256-233-8733      Email is court@athensal.us

Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wedensday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Please note this is for Athens Municipal Court ONLY. This does not apply to Limestone County Circuit and District courts. 

March 31, 2020 - Athens Utilities extends suspension of disconnects

Athens Utilities is extending the suspension of utility disconnects for non-payment until April 17. Customers will be responsible for the full bill amount accrued until payment is made.
 
Customers are urged to pay what they can on their bills between now and April 17 to help keep their balances low. Athens Utilities will re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation on April 17 to determine whether to extend this modified policy.  

March 27, 2020 - Youth Commissioners write letter of hope to Athens community

Members of the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission wrote a letter of hope to Athens, sharing their thoughts and feelings. 

Link to letter

March 23, 2020 - Athens City Council offers live stream and call-in options

In order to comply with State mandated social distancing guidelines, tonight’s City Council meeting will be live streamed on the City YouTube channel located at

https://www.youtube.com/user/CityofAthensAla

Please subscribe to the City of Athens YouTube channel.  The more who subscribe the more options we have in doing live streams.

The public will be able to call in and participate in the scheduled Public Hearing and during the time of Reading of Petitions, Applications, Complaints, Appeals, Etc. 

  • Both the work session and the regular meeting will be streamed.
  • The Live stream will begin at approximately 4:50 p.m.
  • The Public will be instructed when to call in.  The phone will not be answered except during the times of public input.
  • Phone calls will be limited to two minutes.
  • Phone calls during the Public Hearing must be about the topic of the hearing.  If you are calling in about another topic you will be instructed to call back.
  • There is an approximate 30-second delay on the live stream.  If you call in please turn down the volume on your streaming device so there will not be feedback. 
  • There are a limited number of incoming phone lines, so please be patient
  • The phone number to call in on is 256-262-1430.

Computer live stream setup at Council Chambers

March 20, 2020 - City of Athens suspends door-to-door sales

The City of Athens has implemented several COVID-19 protocols in order to limit exposure risk for the public and employees. Effective March 20, 2020, the City has suspended permission for door-to-door sales until further notice. 

March 20, 2020 - City of Athens offices are closed to the public until further notice

City of Athens offices are adhering to the Alabama Dept. of Public Health’s COVID-19 protocols stressing social distancing by closing its facilities to the public effective March 20.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks will continue to coordinate with Limestone EMA on the need to amend these protocols.

“This is not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary in order to limit exposure for our employees and citizens during this ever-evolving pandemic,” Marks said. “We must continue to work together as a community to follow safety protocols, call and check on our neighbors, and pray for guidance.”

Employees will be working, and each department is offering ways for citizens to remotely access employees, information, and forms.

The City’s website is www.athensal.us which lists contact information for each department as well as information on payments, forms, and services.

Each city building will have a note on the door listing contact information for that department. The Athens Police Department will utilize a speaker and camera at the front entrance to determine whether to grant a person access to its building.

March 19, 2020 - Athens offers live stream option for Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting

Tonight’s Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting (March 19) will be available by live stream. The meeting will start at approximately 5 p.m. This will allow citizens to practice social distancing and view the meeting remotely.

The link will be online at:

https://www.athensalabama.us/265/Zoning-Board-of-Adjustments

In addition, due to COVID-19 protocols, those who meet the following criteria are prohibited from attending in person:

  • Persons who have been, within the last 14 days, in any area identified by the CDC as subject to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice or as a place of “Widespread sustained spread and restrictions on travel to the United States,” see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html This list may update.
  • Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has been in one of the areas listed above within the last 14 days.
  • Persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency.
  • Persons who have been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or the flu.
  • Persons who have a fever 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, have trouble breathing, or are obviously unwell, and have not been free of those conditions for 48 hours.

March 18, 2020 - Athens Utilities to close Customer Accounts lobby; suspend disconnects

Athens Utilities is supporting state health officials on recommendations for social distancing as part of its COVID-19 protocols and ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees and customers by closing to the public its Customer Accounts lobby on Jefferson Street.

This will become effective Thursday, March 19, at noon.

In addition, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Customer Accounts Manager Bill Vaughn have suspended the normal practice of disconnecting utility services for nonpayment. This is effective immediately and will continue through April 6. Customers will be responsible for the full bill amount accrued until payment is made.

Customers are urged to pay what they can on their bills between now and April 6 to help keep their balances low. Athens Utilities will re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation on April 6 to determine whether to extend this modified policy.

March 16, 2020 - EMA requests Mayor Marks to sign Proclamation of A Local Emergency

The proclamation will allow the City of Athens to apply for federal funds, should any become available, to cover expenses related to COVID-19. 

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and EMA Director Rita White on a phone conference


March 16, 2020 - Alternative provided to attending Athens Planning Commission in person

To limit exposure, those who want to follow and have input regarding the March 17 APC meeting can view online and provide questions by phone and email. Click link for details: /DocumentCenter/View/1703

March 16, 2020 - Athens-Limestone Recycling Center to close on March 20

The center will accepted sorted recycling items from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Friday, March 20, at 2 p.m. Due to state protocols, the center will not be able to utilize inmate labor and will have to close until further notice.

March 15, 2020 - Senior Centers closed

The Limestone County Commission suspended all activities at Senior Centers through April 3. The Athens Senior Center will be closed to the public during this time.

March 14, 2020 - Athens must suspend curb side recycling

The City of Athens recycling vendor in Decatur cannot get inmates to help operate the facility due to state protocols related to COVID-19. The City of Athens must suspend curb side recycling services until further notice. Once the vendor is able to operate its facility, the City will notify residents.

March 13, 2020 - Mayor Marks cancels organized recreational activities as city facilities

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks, as a precaution and to limit the chance of exposure to COVID-19, is canceling all organized recreational activities at City of Athens facilities effective March 13 through at least March 20. The Athens Recreation Center will be closed for public use during this timeframe.
 
Marks made this decision after the Alabama Department of Public Health announced the closing of Alabama public schools for a 2 ½ week break.
 
Marks, who is serving on Gov. Ivey’s State Task Force, will continue to utilize information from state briefings and coordinate with Limestone County EMA to implement protocols to address the evolving situation. EMA is constantly receiving updates from the Alabama Department of Public Health and relaying updates to city and county officials.
 
Marks will re-evaluate this decision regarding recreational activities on Friday, March 20.
 
Please monitor the City of Athens, Alabama (Public Relations) Facebook page and City of Athens website at www.athensal.us for updates. Citizens can sign up for Nixle alerts that are issued by text and/or email at https://local.nixle.com/register/. Follow the group “City of Athens and Utilities.”


March 13, 2020 - Judge Bob Baker issues order related to County Court

Court Order from Judge Baker


March 13, 2020, EMA press briefing with local officials

On March 13, EMA held a media briefing for entities in Athens and Limestone County to share information about guidelines they are following related to Coronavirus 2019 as well as the flu. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Limestone County Commission, Athens City Schools, Limestone County Schools, Athens State University, Athens-Limestone Hospital and EMA spoke.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly have signed EMA’s Limestone County Pandemic Standard Operating Guide, which provides protocols for the entities will utilize.

City of Athens Statement for Limestone County Pandemic Response Media Briefing at Limestone County EMA on March 13, 2020

From Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks

City of Athens and Limestone County officials have been meeting with our local EMA to stay abreast of concerns related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 as well as various strains of the flu. Our objective is to be prepared and to collectively provide accurate information. Our local EMA is in constant contact with the Department of Public Health, and the City of Athens will share information as EMA provides it.

In addition, I am meeting with City departments heads and cleaning staff to share information EMA provided us from the Department of Public Health related to:
• Best practices for prevention.
• Awareness of symptoms.
• Overview of our Limestone County Pandemic Response Standard Operating Guide.

As a precaution, Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson has already instructed his dispatchers to ask callers questions in order to maintain the health and safety of our officers. If you call police dispatch, you may be asked if you have or recently had a fever, if you have traveled outside of the United States, if you have been diagnosed with an illness such as the flu or if you have been in contact with someone who has the Coronavirus 2019. This information will help our officers prepare accordingly to limit exposure. Chief Johnson said this will not delay response to calls.

The City will continue to work with EMA and its local Task Force to provide updates as needed.

In addition, as president of the Alabama League of Municipalities, I have been asked to serve on Gov. Kay Ivey’s Task Force regarding protective measures and will take part in a weekly briefing, or more if needed. That will begin Monday morning, March 16.

City and County officials at EMA media briefing

Information from other entities present at the March 13 briefing

  • David Pryor said the hospital is taking precautions such as limiting visitor visits with patients, suspending job shadowing and suspending visits from medial sales reps as well as other precautions.
  • Athens Supt. Trey Holladay said he he has gone over the system’s plan with teachers, and Athens has the capability through its one-on-one system to provide education should schools close or if a student cannot attend.
  • Athens State will have spring break next week, and Mike McCoy said the university is constantly monitoring the situation.

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home Page Articles

City and County officials with Census banner

You can make sure #AthensCounts

Posted on: May 7, 2020
2020 municipal election graphic

2020 Municipal Elections Information

Posted on: January 6, 2020