Lyon County’s Judge-Executive on Friday lifted the emergency declaration for the county that has been in place for the last three months under the COVID-19 pandemic.
At last week’s meeting of Lyon Fiscal Court, Wade White ran the idea past magistrates and other county officials gathered for the regular monthly session. As the county’s top elected official, White explained that it has been several weeks since the powers granted by an emergency declaration have been utilized locally.
“I don’t like stuff like that just laying around and saying we’re in an emergency situation and we’re not,” he said.
The following day, he officially rescinded the order, explaining his decision in a detailed email to The Herald Ledger.
“I’m a believer of not holding onto a power that is not a necessity,” he wrote. “Elected officials should have limited power over the freedoms of the citizens, and the use of emergency declarations should be limited to the actual emergency and not held onto ‘just in case.’ I do not believe we are currently in an emergency as we were before when the goal was to flatten the curve.”
An emergency declaration is a tool that allows governments to coordinate response efforts between all levels of the public sector for “maximum effective response.” It offers extra powers to such as purchasing, implementing emergency measures, curfew power and more.
“It gives us the tools to get things done quickly,” he said. “I don’t look at the emergency declaration as something out there we can use forever when you don’t need it.”
White said he believes Lyon County would be the first county in Kentucky to lift its state of emergency. The nation, state and cities of Eddyville and Kuttawa all remain under such orders.
“I have a lot of faith in the people of Lyon County to make common sense decisions on protecting themselves and their family and friends,” he said, explaining his reasoning. “We do need to jump start our economy.”
White consulted with FEMA, the Kentucky Department for Local Government and Lyon County Emergency Management Director Randy Wright about the idea. He was assured lifting the declaration wuld not affect federal aid headed to the county through the CARES Act.
Lyon County Courthouse opened May 6 to in-person traffic with some restrictions in place such as mid-day cleaning, glass partitions and limited office capacity. Those still remain.
“It has worked very well, and we are happy we have been able to serve the public in this manner,” White said. “Our park, playground and trash convenience center have been open the entire time.
“Thanks to all those who continue to work through this pandemic in a responsible manner.”
The judge-executive reiterated that lifting the emergency order does not mean Lyon County residents should stop social distancing or implementing other common sense ways to slow the spread. He added that it does not mean COVID-19 is gone or that there will not be new cases in the county. In fact, one new case was reported last week by Pennyrile District Health Department, bringing the countywide total to 18, with three deaths.
Rescinding the local order will not supersede any mandates, guidelines or directives issued by Gov. Andy Beshear.
“What if I’m wrong?,” White wrote in his email to the newspaper. “It won’t be the first time, and if we enter into an emergency situation and I need those extra powers, I will declare an emergency.
As head of county government, judge-executives can issue and lift countywide emergency declarations at their own discretion.