Liberty declares state of emergency

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

LIBERTY — Liberty officials have declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus.

In a Facebook Live video posted on March 21, Mayor Brian Peterson said he’d declared the state of emergency that day, effective immediately.

The declaration gives city government “the opportunity to operate in a state of emergency,” he said.

Should the situation escalate, the declaration gives officials more flexibility in making decisions “in uncustomary times, taking uncustomary actions to further protect you,” Petersen said.

“Things are operating as they were yesterday,” Petersen said. “We’re moving forward. We’re just taking precautionary measures, making sure we have the tools and resources to act accordingly, when and if needed, in whatever capacity.”

The city is taking steps to make sure city employees aren’t working in close proximity, as to maintain social distancing.

He urged residents to check on one another, particularly elderly family or neighbors, as the outbreak goes on.

“By pulling together, we’ll make it through this, and we hope this will be a brief, short time,” Petersen said.

He urged residents to “be calm.”

“Just go about your business,” Petersen said. “Try to limit your exposure to any and everyone that you can. Stay home whenever possible, and we will get through this together.”

Petersen addressed residents in another Facebook Live video posted March 25.

City council voted to enact a state of emergency on March 23 during an emergency meeting after he declared one March 21, he said.

Despite that declaration, the city’s conditions “are the same,” Petersen said.

“All the city departments are operating in their full capacity and hours,” he said. “City payments for utility services and the like are still able to made by phone or online at the Liberty website, which is”

Payments are also still being collected from the drop box, Petersen said.

“We are also currently waiving any late fees and the like during this time of special need,” he said.

Residents with any questions should contact City Hall at (864) 843-3177.

Petersen is speaking daily with county and state officials about the coronavirus.

“We expect that there will be an increase, as testing increases in South Carolina, that we will be seeing a pretty significant rise in the number of cases,” Petersen said. “I tell you this simply because I don’t want the nicer weather that we’re experiencing today for example to lull you to sleep, (to think) that this is not real and not going on right here around us.”

Petersen urged residents to maintain social distancing and wash their hands regularly.

“Be steadfast in doing what we’ve been told, what we know we should do,” he said.

As a business owner, Petersen said he’s “also felt the pain of what’s going on during throughout this pandemic and the unfortunate outcome that we’re all experiencing as individuals, as well as business owners.”

Petersen is starting a conference call initiative for Liberty businesses, where business owners call in twice a week and “get collaborative information about what’s going in the city and with each other,” he said.

A Facebook page will be created to allow business owners to collaborate “about needs, wants, staffing and things of this nature,” Petersen said.

“So we can get unified and cross-pollinate resources and/or efficiencies that could benefit and help each other as we go through this challenging time,” he said.

Those interested in taking part in the calls can call City Hall to get the call-in information, Petersen said.

He asked residents for patience.

“This is a challenging time,” Petersen said. “Our City Hall is receiving an influx of calls. If you do get a busy signal, just please leave a message and we will reach back out to you.”