ERIC SPRUILL

Chanute residents can breathe a sigh of relief – without having to wear a mask – and while they’re at it, they can enjoy a nice day at the Maring Aquatic Center. The pool will open today after city commissioners held a special meeting Thursday evening.

Just moments before the city meeting took place, Neosho County Commissioners passed a resolution to opt out of Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order requiring residents to wear masks in public settings. That made the decision much easier for city commission members.

“We will just abide by the rules put in place by the county,” Mayor Jacob LaRue said.

Commissioners believe there is little reason for concern if social distancing takes place.

“My main concern is this holiday weekend. The main thing is if you are not feeling well, do not attend family functions,” Commissioner Phil Chaney said. “Practice social distancing, wash your hands, follow the CDC guidelines, but at the same time, if you are in areas with a lot of people, we still strongly encourage you to wear a mask. If you are traveling to a hotspot, follow the rules they have in place.”

Commissioner Sam Budreau said the City of Chanute was not capable of handling multiple 911 calls for reports of people not wearing a mask.

“I think the citizens of Chanute are responsible enough to make their own decisions. My thing is, I want us to keep our credibility. If we see a big increase further down the road, then yes, enforce it. But I honestly think our police officers have enough on their plate as it is to be hunting down people not wearing a mask.”

There are currently 35 cases of the virus in the county, with 21 people recovered, and three hospitalizations thus far. 

Commissioners believe using common sense is the most vital tool at this time. 

Following a 10-minute discussion, LaRue asked Interim City Manager Todd Newman to address the elephant in the room – opening the pool.

“The pool will open tomorrow,” Newman said. “The county has already spoken for us.”

Chaney said there was really no need for restrictions after seeing crowds at baseball games the past few days.

“You have 50-plus people elbow-to-elbow. I mean, how can you say that is fine, but opening the pool is dangerous,” he said. “Again, I highly encourage people to wear masks. If you go to another area with a high amount of cases, be safe and follow their orders and don’t bring it back to our county. Yes, we did see a spike in new cases. But that was expected as we opened everything back up. If you really go back and look at it though, the cases all involved someone who was not feeling well, that went to an event such as a wedding, anyway, and multiple cases come from situations like that. If you’re sick, stay home.”

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