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Mount Carmel closes library and senior center; city, county meetings canceled

Jeff Bobo • Mar 21, 2020 at 3:00 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — The Mount Carmel Senior Center and Public Library were closed Friday until further notice, joining their counterparts in other Hawkins County municipalities which have also shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis.

On Tuesday, Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal announced his city’s Senior Center and Fitness Center were shutting down, and the Rogersville Senior Center closed as well, although both continued offering meal deliveries to the homebound and serving daily meals via a “drive-thru” service.

The Rogersville, Surgoinsville and Church Hill libraries were also closed by that time, but as of Wednesday Mount Carmel’s library and senior center were staying open.

That changed on Friday.

“This is the only family that they have”

Mount Carmel Senior Center Director Sue Jarrett told the Times News Friday she had been in daily contact with City Manager Mike Housewright on the issue of closing.

“I told him, whenever you feel like it’s time, we will do something,” Jarrett said. “So we closed today. We had to have a little time to get our drive-thru deliveries done, and I’m here sanitizing and cleaning.”

During the closure Mount Carmel will be providing its senior meals via drive-thru on Thursdays only from 9 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Members will receive a week’s worth of frozen meals. Jarrett said seniors who wish to receive a meal must order it by Tuesday so that she can order the food from the state.

Seniors 60 and older wishing to order frozen meals can call Jarrett at (423) 357-3281 and leave a message if no one answers.

“We just want everybody to be safe and healthy, and we want them to have what they need,” Jarrett said. “The loss of social interaction is one of the things that will hurt this center the most. This is family for so many. This is the only family that they have. They count on being here, and we count on each other.”

Mount Carmel BMA meeting canceled

On Thursday, Mount Carmel Vice Mayor Jennifer Williams announced that the March 26 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting was canceled.

“This is not a decision that I have made lightly, nor is it one that I have made alone,” Williams said. “I have consulted with the city administrator as well as the city attorney. We have taken into consideration the concurrent states of emergency declared by both Tennessee and United States governments as a result of this viral outbreak; the Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Services’ recommendation to avoid large public gatherings; the president’s task force recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; the needs of highly susceptible groups; and the town’s ability to practice effective social distancing within Town Hall. Based upon a thorough examination of all of these criteria, at this time it would be irresponsible for the town to hold a meeting which forced the public and its governing body to potentially put their well-being at risk.”

Post office stays open

The Mount Carmel post office lobby will remain open and patrons can still access their P.O. box at any time.

However, the interior service window is now closed, and those needing assistance are asked to proceed through the drive-thru.

All postal services remain available via drive-thru during business hours.

COVID-19 cancellations across Hawkins County

Due to escalating concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rogersville Hawkins County Chamber and First Community Bank have made the decision to cancel the Chamber General Membership Breakfast scheduled for Thursday, March 26.

The March 23 Hawkins County Commission meeting was canceled, as are some scheduled committee meetings including the March 24 Delinquent Tax Committee and Park Committee meetings and the March 25 Road Committee meeting.

The March 26 meeting of the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board is also canceled.

The biweekly Rogersville Men’s Prayer Breakfast which is held every other Thursday at the Price Public School Community Center will be postponed until further notice. Event chairman Dr. Blaine Jones said he hopes to begin holding live Facebook meetings instead.

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