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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.


School/Class News




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Sports

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Head Coach Billy Nappier issues statement on passing of Assistant Coach D.J. Looney

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) The college football world today is mourning the sudden passing of UL Lafayette football assistant coach D.J. Looney.

Looney, who was heading into his third year as an assistant offensive line coach with the Ragin’ Cajuns, died after suffering a heart attack during a team workout. He was only 31 years old.

Cajuns head coach Billy Napier released a statement Saturday evening regarding Looney’s passing.

The Ragin Cajuns Department of Athletics ask that fans, friends and acquaintances of Coach Looney keep his family and the football program in their thoughts and prayers.


Ed Orgeron sends condolences after death of UL Lafayette assistant coach D.J. Looney

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron offered his heartfelt condolences on the passing of UL Lafayette assistant football coach D.J. Looney, who died Saturday following a heart attack during a team workout at Cajun Field.

“Our prayers are with Coach Looney’s family and the Ragin Cajun Football team. He will be missed. God bless.”

Looney was confirmed dead at University Hospital & Clinics, which is located across the street from Cajun Field.

He was 31 years old.


Weather

The Single Guy Blog

My New Dream Girl

Well it has been a while since I posted. I guess after finding out my dream girl was having a baby by another guy I just wasn’t in the mood to post. But I’m back folks! So I have a new dream girl. It is a bit of a long story so sit back,pour a cup of coffee and relax. So I have been stalking the Facebook page of the bar I use to work at-ya know how a single guys does when he has no life. I saw some pictures of a beautiful girl that bartends there. Blond hair,beautiful smile…just perfect. Of course I figured I would never have a chance with her-specially since she is about 20 years younger. But a guy can dream right? So a couple days ago I was looking around seekingarrangements to see if anyone new had signed up and who do I see? Yep that girl! We will call her…Tanya…So I figured hey send her a message who knows what might happen. She sent me a message back and we sent a few more messages back and forth. I gave her my number and SURPRISE she sends me a text! So we have been talking for a couple days now. She even says she likes older guys and not the young military guys that come into the bar where she works. We are planning on meeting this week. So we will see what happens…I have my fingers crossed and won’t be surprised if she disappears before we actually meet….but I might just actually have found my future wife-or she may just “ghost” on me like so many flakey girls do. Stay tuned..maybe the Single Guy won’t be single much longer!


Whats Really News Blog

Daventry scrapyard fire: A45 closed as crews tackle blaze

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Stable And Farm Blog

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The equine gut microbiome: Establishing a healthy foal gut

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