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Ashland city council ratifies State of Emergency declaration

The Ashland City Council voted Tuesday night to ratify a Declaration of a State of Emergency, authorizing City Administrator Kelly Madding to lead the city through the uncharted waters of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through at least April 7.

Madding made the declaration at 11 a.m. Monday, March 15, and the council, minus one absent member, voted unanimously (5-0) near the end of Tuesday’s meeting to ratify.

The declaration’s approval means Madding will have “ultimate authority and responsibility for the direction and control of city resources,” according to Ashland’s Emergency Management Plan, a 318-page document signed in 2018.

According to Ashland’s EMP, which is available to view on the “forms and documents” page of the city’s website (Ashland.or.us), a declaration of emergency by the city is the first step in accessing state and federal disaster assistance. The City Council has the legal authority to declare that a local emergency exists, and if a quorum of councilors can’t be assembled Madding also has that authority.

“I appreciate the efforts and this is an important step for Ashland to be in the best position to recover from this crisis,” councilor Rich Rosenthal said.

Councilor Tonya Graham agreed.

“I think some communities are not getting on board and taking proactive measures and I fear for those communities,” Graham said. “I’m just please to see that we are taking aggressive action in the city.”

According to the EMP, an emergency declaration must: describe the nature of the emergency; designate the geographic boundaries of the area where the emergency exists; estimate the number of individuals at risk, injured, or killed; describe the actual or likely damage caused by the emergency; state the type of assistance or resources required to respond to the emergency; state the type of assistance or resources required to respond to the emergency; estimate the length of time during which the designated area will remain in an emergency status; and state the specific regulations or emergency measures imposed because of the declaration of emergency.

A document included in the council’s agenda laid out Madding’s reasoning for declaring a state of emergency. Item “D” read:

“This Declaration of a State of Emergency is intended to make clear that appropriate steps are being taken to assure critical public services are maintained and to reduce stress and fear. The City urges citizens to show even greater-than-normal neighborliness, tolerance, and patience in the face of inconveniences and uncertainty during this period.”