MINT HILL – President Trump ends speeches like his predecessors with the phrase “God bless you, and God bless America,” but Mayor Brad Simmons has developed a unique sign-off of his own: “Stay safe, stay well and stay home.”
It’s an effective tool Simmons uses to remind residents how they can stop the spread of COVID-19. He gets to use it every few days when writing to residents on the town website.
He’s written eight letters to residents since March 16 about how the town government is adapting to the pandemic. Most serve as reminders about the importance of staying home. The most recent one on April 7 addressed how Waste Pro will only collect trash in bins, as well as 10 bags of leaves and one pile of limbs (4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 5 feet long).
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Simmons also maintains hours when residents can contact him about town issues. The Weekly took advantage of this access by giving the mayor a call on April 7. Follow Mint Hill on social media for updated hours.
WEEKLY: What tends to be the most common concerns or issues residents ask you about?
Simmons: They see some sort of announcement that Charlotte has changed something. For instance, Charlotte is no longer picking up yard waste, but we’re continuing to do that. Those are the kind of questions we get most of the time.
Surprisingly, I have not had any questions as to when I expect this pandemic to end.
WEEKLY: What are your thoughts on the pandemic? I’m curious.
Simmons: As far as …
WEEKLY: That’s a good point. There’s a lot of layers to it.
Simmons: There are tons of layers. It’s a moving target.
WEEKLY: As one of the big dogs in Mint Hill, are you having conversations about COVID-19 response or has the town delegated that to one of the first-responders?
Simmons: No. We’re having conversations.
Our town manager is spearheading that. He’s on the call daily with all the surrounding towns. They are staying in touch with Mecklenburg County and most of the answers are coming out of there. We’re letting Mecklenburg County lead the way.
We’ve agreed with most of the things they’ve done so far.
WEEKLY: A few months ago, you said Mint Hill was going to explore streaming town commissioner meetings online. Does social distancing expedite those efforts?
Simmons: We were kind of on the fast track anyway. We just had some equipment issues to start off with.
At this point in time, we’re planning on next month’s meeting – It may be streamed. It may be a virtual meeting depending on what we can do as far as getting our board of commissioners in here or not.
Depending on the social distancing and things that are going on at that point in time, when that meeting rolls around, it may be a total virtual meeting.
We’re working on trying to make all that happen. We’re definitely going to be in a position by our next meeting be able to be ready to start streaming meetings.
WEEKLY: Do you consider yourself to be a war-time mayor?
Simmons: If the question is, ‘Did I plan all this when signed on,’ no, I did not.
Luckily, our staff is just absolutely fabulous. Our police department is acting like it’s just another day. Our fire department is acting like it’s just another day. They just roll with the punches.
Of course, town hall is closed, but our town staff is working from home.
We’re continuing to go on with the things that we had planned, that we talked about at the last meeting.
Town staff is getting all of the information together so that we’re working on the town budget.
We’re putting together our 10-year plan this coming year. Town staff continues to work on that every day.
It’s been an inconvenience and it’s been a change, but I think we’re getting ready to start finding out what the new normal really looks like here in a few months.
WEEKLY: I hope it involves getting out of the house.
Simmons: You and I both.
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