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Bandimere Speedway family argues race track will close if forced to comply with public health orders

In an escalating legal fight between the owners of the Bandimere Speedway and public health officials, owner John Bandimere argued Wednesday in Jefferson County District Court that his family’s business would shutter if forced to limit crowd sizes to 175 people as the new coronavirus pandemic continues.

Rebecca Klymkowsky, an attorney representing Jefferson County Public Health, argued the pandemic presented a public health crisis that supersedes the race track’s desire to operate.

“It is not enough for Bandimere to say our attendees want to attend,” Klymkowsky said. “This is larger than Bandimere. It involves the entire community. It involves the entire country. When you consider it in that context, the public interest is in keeping individuals safe.”

The feud began July 2 when the health department sought and received a temporary restraining order against Bandimere. The order required the race track to limit its crowd sizes to 175 people per activity during its July 4 events and to follow social distancing guidelines. But the county health agency said the race track violated the order, which led to Wednesday’s hearing.

The fight has become a flashpoint in political arguments over whether people should be forced to comply with public health orders or allowed to make personal choices as the pandemic surges. The hearing, which was conducted online, drew an audience that sometimes led District Court Judge Tamara Russell to remind listeners to mute their microphones and to respect the court’s decorum rules.

During his testimony, Bandimere argued public health officials did not have better ideas for how the race track could operate safely, and although his family tried to put rules in place they couldn’t control individual behavior.

“I think that’s freedom,” Bandimere said. “It’s freedom to make choices for ourselves. It’s freedom to do things we feel are adequate for our own personal beliefs and our own activities we participate in.”

Randy Corporon, Bandimere’s attorney, argued that the county’s restrictions were unreasonable, improper and would shut down the race track.

“It’s paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, and subparagraph after subparagraph after subparagraph of things they’re asking them to do,” he said. “It will put this 62-year-old family business out of business.”

Bandimere said the speedway took precautions to protect the approximately 7,000 attendees who turned out for the July 4 event, including cutting attendance by about half of a normal holiday event, bringing in hand-washing and sanitizing stations, reminding guests to social distance and suggesting they wear a mask.

When Corporon asked Bandimere to describe what he saw in a photograph depicting fewer race fans than usual at the July 4 event, Bandimere said,”I see a lot of lost revenue.”

James Rada, a JeffCo public health employee sent to observe the track on July 4, said he saw attendees attempting to follow the rules but also witnessed guests gathering in crowds and wearing masks improperly. Employees occasionally failed to correct customers, Rada said.

Corporon called Rada a spy who was “trying to build a case” against the speedway. Instead, Rada could have corrected people himself or alerted employees or the Bandimeres to alleged health violations as they happened.

“How much do you want them to destroy their own business?” Corporon asked. “How can they have the big events they need to survive if they can’t put people in the seats?”

In his questioning of Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, Corporon noted that coronavirus deaths largely impacted the elderly and said there were plenty of better ways to protect the elderly than to close the race track.

Johnson agreed that the great majority at risk of dying of COVID-19 were elderly.

“Death is not the only thing we’re concerned about,” Johnson said. “We’re concerned about illness, the use of resources, overwhelming our healthcare system and concerned very much about young people who are infectious to older people. They go home, infect their parents or grandparents….Many people may not die, but they can get very ill and will take a lot of healthcare resources.”

The court hearing will resume at 8 a.m. Thursday, beginning with more testimony from Bandimere. As Wednesday’s hearing ended, Russell acknowledged the political and community issues surrounding the case but said she hoped attorneys came prepared to present legal arguments.

“I know you guys have a loyal fanbase,” Russell said. “But ultimately I have to focus on the legal arguments, not the ones that tug at your heartstrings.”


Judge orders Bandimere Speedway to limit crowd size at Fourth of July race, fireworks show

A district court judge in Jefferson County has ordered Bandimere Speedway to comply with COVID-19 public health regulations limiting the number of people who can be in the stands during the race and fireworks show planned for the Fourth of July.

The judge on Thursday granted Jefferson County Public Health’s request for a temporary restraining order requiring the Morrison racetrack to comply with state public health orders for outdoor events, which limit crowd sizes to 175 people, require six feet of social distancing between attendees and bar food service.

“We are pleased with the result, but can’t comment further because it is still pending litigation,” Ashley Sever, a spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email Friday.

Bandimere is scheduled to host the Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals — which includes an evening fireworks show, one of the few in the metro area — on Saturday, according to its website.

Efforts by The Denver Post and other media to speak to Bandmere representatives this week have been unsuccessful. News of the temporary restraining order was first reported Friday by the Canyon Courier.

Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, previously had sent a letter to Bandimere alleging the track had been admitting too many fans in violation of state health orders meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Johnson said the racetrack has been selling tickets for all seats in all rows at its events, which would prevent any attempts at social distancing. He noted that some of the ticket packages come with buffet-style meals, also prohibited under the state health department’s rules over concerns diners will pass along the virus.

The letter from Jeffco Public Health ordered track officials to submit a plan to comply by 5 p.m. Wednesday. They failed to do that.

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Judge orders Bandimere Speedway to limit crowd size at Fourth of July race, fireworks show

A district court judge in Jefferson County has ordered Bandimere Speedway to comply with COVID-19 public health regulations limiting the number of people who can be in the stands during the race and fireworks show planned for the Fourth of July.

The judge on Thursday granted Jefferson County Public Health’s request for a temporary restraining order requiring the Morrison racetrack to comply with state public health orders for outdoor events, which limit crowd sizes to 175 people, require six feet of social distancing between attendees and bar food service.

“We are pleased with the result, but can’t comment further because it is still pending litigation,” Ashley Sever, a spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email Friday.

Bandimere is scheduled to host the Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals — which includes an evening fireworks show, one of the few in the metro area — on Saturday, according to its website.

Efforts by The Denver Post and other media to speak to Bandmere representatives this week have been unsuccessful. News of the temporary restraining order was first reported Friday by the Canyon Courier.

Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, previously had sent a letter to Bandimere alleging the track had been admitting too many fans in violation of state health orders meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Johnson said the racetrack has been selling tickets for all seats in all rows at its events, which would prevent any attempts at social distancing. He noted that some of the ticket packages come with buffet-style meals, also prohibited under the state health department’s rules over concerns diners will pass along the virus.

The letter from Jeffco Public Health ordered track officials to submit a plan to comply by 5 p.m. Wednesday. They failed to do that.

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07/02/2020 - Coffee Talk: A conversation about drug overdoses in the North Country: what you need to know and how the business community can help.

Panelists will present information on current overdose statistics, public awareness efforts, outreach efforts, treatment availability and options, and recovery.  Businesses may have employees that are using, or family members of employees that are using, and the panelists will be able to discuss and answer questions about these scenarios.  Additionally, it is critical that recovering individuals be able to obtain sustained employment.  Panelists will discuss employment needs of recovering individuals in Jefferson County, and what other communities have done to increase successful employment for recovering individuals.      

Panelists include: 
Stephen Jennings, Health Planner, Jefferson County Public Health Service
Anita Seefried-Brown, Project Director, Alliance for Better Communities

Timothy Ruetten, Jefferson County Director of Community Services
Wanda Holtz, Director, Anchor Recovery Center of Northern New York

 


Coffee Talk is a web-based series hosted by the Greater Watertown - North Country Chamber of Commerce in response to the COVID-19 Crisis. Our weekly Coffee Talk offers an educational opportunity, bringing on guest speakers to answer questions on relevant topics for our business community.


07/02/2020 - Coffee Talk: A conversation about drug overdoses in the North Country: what you need to know and how the business community can help.

Panelists will present information on current overdose statistics, public awareness efforts, outreach efforts, treatment availability and options, and recovery.  Businesses may have employees that are using, or family members of employees that are using, and the panelists will be able to discuss and answer questions about these scenarios.  Additionally, it is critical that recovering individuals be able to obtain sustained employment.  Panelists will discuss employment needs of recovering individuals in Jefferson County, and what other communities have done to increase successful employment for recovering individuals.      

Panelists include: 
Stephen Jennings, Health Planner, Jefferson County Public Health Service
Anita Seefried-Brown, Project Director, Alliance for Better Communities

Timothy Ruetten, Jefferson County Director of Community Services
Wanda Holtz, Director, Anchor Recovery Center of Northern New York

 


Coffee Talk is a web-based series hosted by the Greater Watertown - North Country Chamber of Commerce in response to the COVID-19 Crisis. Our weekly Coffee Talk offers an educational opportunity, bringing on guest speakers to answer questions on relevant topics for our business community.


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Sports

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North Alabama War Dawgs hosting tryouts for upcoming season

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – In case you didn’t know, the Rocket City has a professional basketball team and they want you to come play for them. The North Alabama War Dawgs play in the American Basketball Association and the team is hosting tryouts for the upcoming season Saturday, July 11.

War Dawgs owner Timothy Jones says he’s looking forward to another great season with his team.

“We had a great team and we plan to build around that team this year and we’re looking to do some great things in the ABA this year,” Jones said.

“It’s great it’s another opportunity to do what you love and you know we do this for a living so we just come out here, work hard, and do what we do best,” said Dallas Jones, a War Dawgs player.

The tryouts will be held from 3-8 p.m. at Faith Chapel Center; for more information visit the team’s website.


AD Byrne: UA, USC to ‘adjust’ football game plan following PAC-12’s decision to only play conference games

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The PAC-12 announced Friday evening that they would only be playing conference games for all fall sports in 2020, a move that directly impacts a scheduled game between the University of Southern California and the University of Alabama.

Following the decision by the conference, UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne released a statement on his Twitter saying the schools had every intention of playing and that now they will “adjust.”

The PAC-12 has followed in the footsteps of the BIG 10 who moved to conference-only games this season. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said there were no plans to do the same at this time.


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