WARREN BOARD-SALINAS

In this image captured from video, Melanie Salinas speaks to the Warren County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night.

Some area residents critical of the rules meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 urged the Warren County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday to not enforce the state’s requirements.

The residents, many not wearing masks, spoke out against the protocols that call for social distancing, limits on gatherings and a recommendation that most people wear masks when in public. Supervisors followed those protocols at Wednesday’s meeting and allowed a limited number of people in the boardroom, leaving the rest to stand in the hallway.

When the residents spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, some read lines from a proposed resolution that urged the board to designate Warren County as a sanctuary county for the U.S. Constitution.

County resident Melanie Salins spoke first and read from a written statement.

“We come before you today to respectfully ask for your help,” Salins said. “This last year has hurt citizens of Warren County. We have many businesses struggling to stay afloat. We are scared of what is to come. We are here today to present to you a resolution to become a constitutional sanctuary county and formally reassert your dedication to upholding the Constitution and our rights protected by it.”

Speakers also read parts of the Bill of Rights. Sarah Lhymn, of Linden, lifted her face shield to talk. Speakers also cited similar language in the Virginia Constitution.

County resident Peter Romanchuk read more of the proposed resolution, referring to the governor’s order.

“Whereas, this order, in the opinion of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, clearly violates the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Virginia,” Romanchuk said. “And, whereas the Warren County Board of Supervisors does not recognize the governor’s order, pursuant to the Constitution of Virginia ... which states, quote, that all power is vested in and, consequently derived from the people, that magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them.”

Some speakers combined skepticism over the impact of the coronavirus, contrasting the 400,000-plus deaths in the United States with other causes such as heart disease.

Other speakers compared mask requirements and prohibitions on gatherings to the treatment of Holocaust victims of the Nazis in World War II and repeated unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud helped President Joseph R. Biden Jr., win the election.

A few speakers called Gov. Ralph Northam’s order a “reign of terror” and quipped about “socialist distancing.”

The board’s meeting policies limit the public comment period to 60 minutes total with three minutes per speaker. However, Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers, at the urging of Supervisor Tony F. Carter, allowed people to continue to speak, going well over the 60-minute limit.

Cullers reminded the audience that the board does not allow applause or other noises that would disrupt the speakers. Many people still applauded and cheered after some of the people spoke.

Cullers also asked speakers to use sanitized wipes on the microphone when they finish. Most speakers did not use the wipes.

Deputy Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi also read comments in emails submitted by people who did not attend the meeting. Most of the email statements supported the proposed resolution, but one person urged the board to not adopt the resolution and instead enforce the governor’s order.

Prior to the comment period, Cullers asked the audience if anyone had a medical reason for not wearing a mask and if everyone was standing 6 feet apart as required. A woman in the audience said yes although the hall was crowded. She noted that even though there were plenty of empty seats in the room, people not wearing masks were not allowed in. Rows of seats were mostly empty.

View video of the meeting at {a id=”LPlnk898121” href=”https://warrencountyva.new.swagit.com/videos/111791” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank” data-auth=”NotApplicable”}https://warrencountyva.new.swagit.com/videos/111791{/a}

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com