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Upshur to allow trick-or-treating

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission has set trick-or-treat for Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the county while the City of Buckhannon tabled the item until the Oct. 15 Buckhannon City Council meeting.

During Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting, at which time the public and media was asked to call in to the meeting versus attending in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, commissioners discussed setting Saturday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. as trick-or-treat in the county.

Commission president Terry Cutright said, “My suggestion would be to let the parents decide if they want to let their children trick-or-treat. Residents, if you want them to come to your door, then leave a porch light on. If not, leave a porch light off.”

Commissioner Sam Nolte asked, “Do you want to see what direction the city goes before we make that final decision?”

But Cutright said, “I don’t think it’s right to the public not to give them notice so they can make arrangements. The only way we wouldn’t have it is if the governor says not to have to it.”

Commissioner Kristie Tenney said, “I would like to see the kids go if the parents feel comfortable with them going.”

She said if residents did not feel comfortable handing out candy, they could have a bucket outside the door that says take the candy.

Tenney then suggested the commission could table a decision until the Oct. 22 meeting.

But Cutright reiterated the need for parents and residents to budget for costumes and candy ahead of Oct. 31.

“That still leaves the public up in the air,” Cutright said.

Tenney then said, “I am with going ahead and establishing that time if people feel comfortable and use precautions.”

Nolte said, “If we are going to establish this date and time, we definitely want to encourage everyone to wear a mask.”

County administrator Carrie Wallace noted that the Centers for Disease Control has said that traditional costume masks do not offer protection because of holes around nose and mouth.

However, the CDC recommends not wearing both the face mask and a costume mask because of concern about the ability to breathe and, instead incorporating the appropriate face mask into the costume.

On Thursday, Oct. 2, Mayor Robbie Skinner said about a week prior to the meeting he would have recommended proceeding with trick-or-treat. The proposed date and time council would have voted on was Saturday, Oct. 31 from 6-7:30 p.m.

“As the week has progressed, I think that is irresponsible of us,” Skinner said. “If we were in the green, I think it would be more than understandable to have a city-wide trick-or-treat as normal as it can be.”

But Skinner recommended council postpone the decision until its Oct. 15 city council meeting so they can re-evaluate and see what the number of COVID-19 cases were.

“As many of us know, our community is facing a little bit of a spike right now as well as it has reached our school system,” he said.

On Thursday, Oct. 1 there were 37 active COVID-19 cases in the county. On Thursday, Oct. 8, the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department reported 81 active cases.

“I want to be very clear we are not canceling trick-or-treat,” Skinner said. “We are going to monitor the numbers very closely. We are going to work with our county commissioners and we are going to work with our health experts up the street as well as with Dr. Jeff Harvey who works very hard along with the COVID-19 caseload.”

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh said, “I concur with what you are saying.”

City recorder Randy Sanders said, “I think you are doing a pretty good thing, Mr. Mayor. I think we have to look at this with a clear mind. Yes, we want to say to the kids go out and have fun. But more importantly, we also want to remain healthy. This is more than just a little spike. This is an attention-getter. We have gotten a little lax.”

The City of Buckhannon previously canceled its annual Trunk-or-Treat and the Fall Fest due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control labeled participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats or handed to children who go to door-to-door as a “higher-risk activity.” It gave the same label to trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots, crowded indoor costume parties, indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming and going on hayrides with people who are not in the same household.

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