Mayor Robbie Skinner at a recent SYCC Board meeting.

SYCC ponders possibility of birthday parties, indoor events — but postpones decision until October

BUCKHANNON – The Stockert Youth & Community Center Board is considering whether they will allow birthday parties and other events to occur at the center.

SYCC Director Debora Brockleman brought up the issue during the Monday, Sept. 14 board meeting. SYCC operates as an arm of the City of Buckhannon and is funded through the city’s general fund, which also provides money for police, fire and the streets and parks department.

“We always have birthday parties and those kinds of things all year and people are starting to call and ask, ‘Are we going to be allowed to have a party?’” Brockleman said. “Currently, you can have 25 people (per West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s executive order), but that’s a lot of people trying to stay apart but together. Do you think we’re going to be able to do that anytime soon or should we just say, ‘not until further notice?’”

Mayor Robbie Skinner said the city has allowed outdoor events as long as people agree to keep it to 25 people or less, wear masks and observe the physical/social distancing protocol of maintaining a six foot barrier between people who do not live in the same household.

“What we haven’t faced yet is anything indoors,” Skinner said. “The Consolidated Public Works board just updated the event request form, and what the event request form says at the very bottom is, there’s a piece for COVID that basically says the city has the right to revoke your permit and cancel your event if the COVID numbers look like they aren’t trending in a favorable way in the community or in the state.”

Skinner said this new language helps the city pull back on events if circumstances were to change or if Governor Justice said there could be no events at all. Skinner asked City of Buckhannon Finance and Administrative Director Amby Jenkins if they should implement that event request form for the SYCC.

“I think so,” Jenkins said, “but indoors is going to be a little different though. The first thing I thought is if you allow people to come in here with a party of 25, and they have free reign of several rooms, you’re going to have to sanitize immediately after they leave and you are going to have to have staff on board to do that, which is going to increase your operating costs.”

SYCC board member and councilwoman Pam Bucklew said she didn’t think having parties at SYCC would be a good idea right now.

“I think it’s too much of a risk to allow it,” Bucklew said. “Sooner or later, somebody is going to be in here and have COVID, and then it’s going to be on the city. If we allow people in here who have it, even though we wouldn’t know, we’re still going to be blamed. Like they said, everything’s going to have to be sanitized, and we don’t know if it will be done right because kids touch everything, so I think it’s too much of a risk. I wouldn’t have a party here.”

Skinner said the matter was not on the agenda for the board to take action that afternoon, so he suggested the board wait until their meeting in October to make a final decision.

“We could wait for October since we will still have nice weather in September, and we’re not looking at a lot of indoor activities right now,” Skinner said. “My suggestion is that we go ahead and put this on the agenda for strategic issues for discussion or vote under the October meeting, and have a decision made as to whether or not we’re going to allow indoor activities at SYCC.”

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