STEPHENS CITY — The Town of Stephens City has closed its office at 1033 Locust St. after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
Town Manager Mike Majher made the announcement during a virtual Town Council meeting Tuesday night. He said there has been at least one confirmed positive test among the staff, and the rest of the town administration is awaiting test results and quarantining for two weeks. If no other staff members test positive, he said the town offices will reopen Dec. 10.
Town Council member Tina Stevens asked if there would be a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Stephens City. Majher said a ceremony — even a virtual one — could be challenging.
“The issue with staff being positive and each employee needing to kind of be in isolation complicates it,” Majher said. “We normally do the lighting the first week of December. For the next two weeks we all need to be out of contact with people.”
Stephens City Fire Chief Timothy Vaught said that while COVID-19 is on the rise both locally and statewide, the fire company still has an adequate supply chain of Personal and Protective Equipment.
The pandemic has created hurdles for fundraising.
“We have returned our fundraisers to drive-through only as well as canceled our Breakfast with Santa event that was scheduled for December out of an abundance of caution,” Vaught said. “As everybody else does, the department urges all citizens to remain vigilant with hand hygiene, social distancing and face covering when distancing is not possible or practical.”
Despite the pandemic, Mayor Mike Diaz said that the Newtown Heritage Festival will likely take place next year in some capacity.
“I think they are going to end up planning two events,” Diaz said of the Newtown Heritage Festival committee. “Either we have the event we would normally have every year or they might end up making it a smaller event where it is all being done virtually and potentially a reverse parade where people would drive by parade floats as opposed to having the parade floats driving by a group. There’s a couple of other municipalities that are doing that and it’s proved interesting and fun for some. And if they did any musical entertainment they might do that virtually through the Facebook page or other online media.”
At the conclusion of the meeting Joseph Hollis, who chose not to run for reelection this year, said goodbye to the other members of council. Julia Young will take his place in January. Hollis commended Majher’s leadership and the council’s ability to work with one another.
“I’ve served on many boards with divergent views throughout my professional career, but none that reach consensus as easily and amicably as this group,” Hollis said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on Town Council. Sometimes more than others — thanks Frederick County and Frederick Water. And feel not only have we worked hard to get the interest of the town, but we gained the respect and friendship of each other. I look forward to an incredibly bright future for Stephens City, and I’m confident in the abilities of the town manager and staff and all of you. Thanks for the opportunity.”
“I think it goes without saying, we are going to miss you dearly here on council, Joe,” Diaz said. “The council will not be the same without you.”